The Urban Readers Series presents Japonica Brown-Saracino on "How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities."
At the Co-op
About the book: We like to think of ourselves as possessing an essential self, a core identity that is who we "really" are, regardless of where we live, work, or play. But places actually make us much more than we might think, argues Japonica Brown-Saracino in this novel ethnographic study of lesbian, bisexual, and queer individuals in four small cities across the United States. Taking us into communities in Ithaca, New York; San Luis Obispo, California; Greenfield, Massachusetts; and Portland, Maine; Brown-Saracino shows how LBQ migrants craft a unique sense of self that corresponds to their new homes. "How Places Make Us" demonstrates that sexual identities are responsive to city ecology. Despite the fact that the LBQ residents share many demographic and cultural traits, their approaches to sexual identity politics and to ties with other LBQ individuals and heterosexual residents vary markedly by where they live. Subtly distinct local ecologies shape what it feels like to be a sexual minority, including the degree to which one feels accepted, how many other LBQ individuals one encounters in daily life, and how often a city declares its embrace of difference. In short, city ecology shapes how one “does” LBQ in a specific place. Ultimately, Brown-Saracino shows that there isn’t one general way of approaching sexual identity because humans are not only social but fundamentally local creatures. Even in a globalized world, the most personal of questions—who am I?—is in fact answered collectively by the city in which we live.
About the author: Japonica Brown-Saracino is associate professor of sociology at Boston University. She is the author of "A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation and the Search for Authenticity," (University of Chicago Press, 2009), which received the Urban Affairs Association Best Book Award, and editor of the "Gentrification Debates" (Routledge 2010). Her articles on sexualities and place have appeared in journals such as Social Problems, Sexualities, and the American Journal of Sociology.
About the series: In collaboration with the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, UChicago Urban has launched the Urban Readers Series, an author-centered series of readings and conversations at the Seminary Co-op. At Urban Readers, people from all over Chicago can hear from the university’s scholars and connect with one another over urban issues, histories and futures. All books in the series are written by UChicago’s faculty, alumni, and affiliates.
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