American Sociological Association

Cultural Archipelagos: New Directions in the Study of Sexuality and Space

Research on sexuality and space makes assumptions about spatial singularity: Across the landscape of different neighborhoods in the city, there is one, and apparently only one, called the gayborhood. This assumption, rooted in an enclave epistemology and theoretical models that are based on immigrant migration patterns, creates blind spots in our knowledge about urban sexualities. I propose an alternative conceptual framework that emphasizes spatial plurality. Drawing on the location patterns of lesbians, transgender individuals, same‐sex families with children, and people of color, I show that cities cultivate “cultural archipelagos” in response to the geo‐sexual complexities that arise from within‐group heterogeneity. Rather than inducing spatially singular or scholastic outcomes, as some scholarship predicts, subgroup variations produce diverse yet distinct types of queer spaces. The analytic frame of cultural archipelagos suggests more generally that we cannot categorize urban or social worlds using simple binaries such as “the gayborhood” versus all other undifferentiated straight spaces. Thinking in terms of plurality provides a more generative approach to advance the study of sexuality and space.


Amin Ghaziani





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