Title

Queer science: Temporality and futurity for queer students in STEM

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

1-1-2021

Abstract

The sociopolitical landscape for queer people has changed dramatically in recent decades; however, progress has been both halting and uneven. While this is evident in many areas of professional and private life, this study focuses on the experiences of queer students in STEM learning environments in US colleges and universities. Specifically, we explore student expressions of temporality and futurity with regards to their STEM experiences and aspirations. Engagement with queer theory, especially queer formulations of time and space, alerted us to the importance of sociopolitical developments of the past several decades—particularly the rise and entrenchment of neoliberal politics in both academic STEM arenas and gay and queer politics. Engaging with queer temporality and spatiality, neoliberalism, and the homonormative turn, we found three interdependent themes: (1) the (re)negotiation of queer politics within academic disciplines linked to the neoliberal state; (2) the multiple bifurcations of self, time, and space required to simultaneously navigate queerness and STEM; and (3) the development of utopian projections of the future intended to reconcile queer identity, neoliberalism, and STEM. These findings point to a tension between queer identities and STEM fields arising not from the nature of the fields themselves but from science’s interconnectedness with a neoliberal economy. This tension not only structures participants’ current experiences in STEM learning spaces but also flavors the way they consider their futures as queer scientists.

Publication Title

Time and Society

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