This year saw the addition of a new course to our ever expanding course offerings, Introduction to Queer of Colour Critique. We caught up with course instructor, Dai Kojima, to ask him about his experiences with the course and where he would like to see it go in the future.
This was a new course for SDS this year, why do you think a course on queer of colour critique is important?
There has been a profound shift within the field of Sexuality Studies where scholars and educators are no longer discussing sexuality as a single category or object of analysis, but rather focusing on the intersectionality of race, gender, class, disability, age etc. with sexuality (among other social formations and processes). This course reflects that important shift, particularly concerning race, and prepares students to engage with contemporary queer studies scholarship that foregrounds anti-racist frameworks as its critical edge. It was very timely that SDS was able to offer this course this year. The public action of Black Lives Matter Toronto’s intervention at the 2016 Pride Parade has become a major flash point that calls for renewed critical thinking about how race and racism participate in our public and private practices of sexual liberation within a local context. In this course, students and I read various texts that engage with sexuality from Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Diaspora Studies and Women of Colour Feminism perspectives. I was very pleased to see how students demonstrated a strong desire to make sense of their own participation in local LGBTQ+ politics and cultures through these texts and class discussions and how we were able to re-examine the meaning of “diversity” in “sexual diversity” beyond the usual markers.
What is your background with the material and what do you feel you bring to this course?
My training in anthropological frameworks and ethnographic methods deeply informs my pedagogical approach. I emphasize the lived experiences and realities of people as a basis for our critical thinking, in addition to the analysis of cultural objects. In addition, my research specifically attends to how queer people of colour experience and negotiate racism in mainstream queer culture and how they experience and negotiate being sexual minorities within their ethnic communities. The scholarly insights and pedagogical approaches I bring to the classroom assist students to appreciate the nuances and complexities of queer life in a place like Toronto, where globalization, immigration and the politics of race are part of the everyday fabric of contemporary life.
What would you like to see future offerings of this course focus on?
In the future, I would like to see this course attend more thoroughly to the limits of queer of colour critique. I think the course can be a place where students can begin to think about the tensions and possibilities between differently racialized communities, particularly between Indigenous communities and new immigrants or transnational communities, and how these conversations would expand current queer studies in Canada. Also, there is a need for a more sustained conversation concerning trans of colour studies, which this course, along with other SDS courses, can create. That said, I am thrilled with what the students and I covered this term during the inaugural offering of this course. I learned many important insights from teaching this course and engaging with students and I hope to be part of further offerings of Queer of Colour Critique at SDS in the future.
Currently, Dr. Dai Kojima is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at York University’s Department of Anthropology and Centre for Feminist Research, and he teaches the Introduction to Queer of Colour Critique for the Sexual Diversity Studies Program at U of T.