MSPEN STREAM: What Are The Foundational Questions of a Unitary Queer Marxist Theory?

Holly Lewis


My recent book--The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory, and Marxism at the Intersection--makes the case that there can be a non-reductive unitary Marxist theory of gender and sexuality and that such a unitary theory is preferable to a ‘multiple systems’ or ‘post-systems’ approach. The book touches on questions of how such a theory may take shape by applying Lise Vogel’s analysis of social reproduction to queer politics. My paper last year at HM London focused on the problem of identifying ‘normativity’ as a key issue for queer Marxist politics. Recently, at HM Toronto, I gave a paper expanding on my work in the latter part of the book which suggests that Barbara Fields’ Gramscian understanding of ideology can provide a materialist clarification to Judith Butler’s (Derridean) theory of iterability and its relationship to the production of gender [expression].

However, what I find to be an ongoing problem in the development of queer Marxist analysis—or at least my own work—is that it seems like we are often setting out to answer questions that we never explicitly pose. What I would like to do, instead of answering a question or describing a problem in queer Marxism, is to write a paper that makes a claim about what questions are foundational to a Marxist analysis of gender and sexuality. I am particularly interested in the disciplinary relationships (and disjuncts) between queer Marxist analysis and Marxist-feminism. The resources I will use to make this claim are Susan Stryker’s analysis of the “subparts” of gender in her book Transgender History. I will also attempt to mine historical and contemporary queer political analysis and, as a counterpoint, delve into questions posed (and rejected by) Marxist-feminist theory.

My hope is that the paper will stimulate productive debate within the Sexuality and Political Economy Network.

queer marxism - transsexual - Identity - feminism - Marxist-feminism - LGBTQI