Jordan Blair Woods, PhD Candidate/Gates Cambridge Scholar, University of
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Abstract: This project provides a critical analysis of the treatment of sexual orientation and gender identity in the field of criminology. It calls for a “queer criminology” that incorporates queer theories and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) perspectives into criminological research.
The project has two parts. Part One is a historical critique of the treatment of sexual orientation and gender identity in each of the four schools of modern criminological thought – biological, psychological, sociological, and critical. The critique argues that criminal anti-sodomy laws have shaped the discourse concerning sexual orientation, gender identity, and LGBTQ people in the field of criminology. During the era of criminalization, criminologists either ignored or portrayed LGBTQ people as perverts, biological degenerates, and sexual psychopaths. After anti-sodomy laws were repealed or no longer enforced, LGBTQ people essentially disappear from theoretical criminological inquiry. To date, there has been no sophisticated attempt within theoretical criminology to explain how concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity influence crime.
Part Two provides new visions for a queer criminological movement. It addresses a number of difficult questions that are essential to developing queer criminologies. These questions include: What does it mean to “queer” criminology and what are the goals of such an endeavor? What ontological assumptions should guide queer criminologies? Does queering criminology have any implications for the research methods that criminologists use? The analysis does not take specific positions on these issues. Rather, in exploring the range of answers to these questions, it illustrates the complexities and potential for conflicting positions within a queer criminological movement.
Sponsored by The Williams Institute Works-in-Progress Series