Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion

283 pages

5 illustrations

August, 2001

ISBN: 9780814781234



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Maria C. Sanchez is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University.

All books by Maria C. Sanchez

Linda Schlossberg is Lecturer and Assistant Director of Studies for the Women's Studies Program at Harvard University.

All books by Linda Schlossberg

Passing for what you are notwhether it is mulattos passing as white, Jews passing as Christian, or drag queens passing as womencan be a method of protection or self-defense. But it can also be a uniquely pleasurable experience, one that trades on the erotics of secrecy and revelation. It is precisely passing's radical playfulness, the way it asks us to reconsider our assumptions and forces our most cherished fantasies of identity to self-destruct, that is centrally addressed in Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion.

Identity in Western culture is largely structured around visibility, whether in the service of science (Victorian physiognomy), psychoanalysis (Lacan's mirror stage), or philosophy (the Panopticon). As such, it is charged with anxieties regarding classification and social demarcation. Passing wreaks havoc with accepted systems of social recognition and cultural intelligibility, blurring the carefully-marked lines of race, gender, and class.

Bringing together theories of passing across a host of disciplinesfrom critical race theory and lesbian and gay studies, to literary theory and religious studiesPassing complicates our current understanding of the visual and categories of identity.

Contributors: Michael Bronski, Karen McCarthy Brown, Bradley Epps, Judith Halberstam, Peter Hitchcock, Daniel Itzkovitz, Patrick O'Malley, Miriam Peskowitz, María C. Sánchez Linda Schlossberg, and Sharon Ullman.


  • "Wigs, men's suits, and shocking posthumous disclosures: such are some stereotypical elements of passing lives. But this rich and stimulating collection maps a more varied territory of passing&38212;with its invisible differences, sly performances, and ‘chameleonic blood,' its compelled betrayals, fears of infiltration, and deeply desired poses. Passing details the terrors of such border crossings and the threats they pose to ways of knowing, indeed to identity itself."

    —Carolyn Dinshaw, Director of The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU

  • "In Passing: Identity and Interpretations in Sexuality, Race, and Religion, editors Maria Carla Sanchez and Linda Schlossberg have assembled relevant cultural criticism by 10 scholars."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "Passing is a very useful contribution to the literature both on sexualities and the politics of identity generally...the analyses in Passing throw light not only on minority identities but also on more mainstream ones."

    Sexualities 6(1)