Queer(ing) Frontier Identities: Tracing Cultural Brokering at 19th century Fort Davis, Texas

Lecture: ARF Brownbag | February 15 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Katrina Eichner, University of California, Berkeley Department of Anthropology

 Archaeological Research Facility

This presentation focuses on the cultural slippage that occurs in frontier zones where competing worldviews create conditions for alternative, innovative, and layered performances of intersecting identities. As spaces of translation, frontiers are the ideal location to study entangled identities. Inhabitants of these queer landscapes constantly negotiate the multiple live realities of often conflicting ideologies. I propose a combine framework pulling from queer and borderlands/frontier studies for understanding the fragmentation and fluidity of experience in the American frontier during the 19th century. This study considers materials utilized in the daily lives of black and Latina laundresses who worked at the multi-ethnoracial, military fort of Fort Davis, Texas. With their identity as Americans, women, care-takers, military employees, and racialized individuals constantly in flux, these women balanced their relationship with one another, the civilian community, and their military colleagues as a way of creating, enacting, and redefining entangled personhoods and identities that were defined by their living on a geographic and cultural boundary. Moreover, the study considers the women’s roles as cultural brokers who navigate contentious social and physical landscapes by simultaneous asserting, contesting, and reasserting their intersecting personhoods in their daily interactions and performances.