Ana Lara wins Ruth Benedict Prize

Assistant Professor Ana-Maurine Lara, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, has been awarded the Ruth Benedict Prize of the Association for Queer Anthropology, a section of the American Anthropological Association for her book Queer Freedom: Black Sovereignty (SUNY Press 2020), out this month. Congratulations to Ana!

The citation reads: In Queer Freedom: Black SovereiIgnty, Lara offers a timely and imaginative exploration of Blackness, queerness, and anthropological theory. Based on three years of fieldwork in the Dominican Republic, the text is an extended reflection on the two sets of analogical terms that make up its title. How can queer: black lives be nurtured? What does it mean to long for or to realize freedom: sovereignty in our increasingly precarious present? Rather than answering these driving questions, Lara invites the reader through a poetic exploration of the stakes of the questions in a world entangled in colonial legacies. Through layered descriptions of Criollo spiritual practices, the book extends as an offrenda—an offering in form and content—that opens possibilities for queer, Black, and indigenous lifeworlds. Queer Freedom: Black Sovereignty is an innovative ethnographic text and powerful example of decolonial anthropology. The rich ethnographic writing challenges the reader to enter a space in which colonial knowledge and power structures dissolve, allowing another world to emerge.