The Time Has Come, For You to Lip-Sync, For Your Identity: Bridging the Queer Gap Between Theory and Practice
Buren, V. van
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The humanities seem to want to specialize in capturing the human experience in their socio-cultural context. It seems, however, that throughout the past decades, certain experiences are harder to academically pin down than others. The critique posed by queer people on queer theory is one example of this discrepancy. Judith Butler, Maggie Nelson, Sara Ahmed, and Crystal Rasmussen are some authors who intellectually capture the experience of queerness. Especially Butler has received critique throughout her career that her description of queerness had very little to do with the real-lived experience of queer people. But, her work showed seminal in the deconstruction of gender identity, as did the works by the other mentioned authors. Despite the important works produced by these authors, it is still difficult to find academic works that are written with a ‘bottom-up’ approach: where the voices of oppressed groups are taken for the truth they speak, while academic references are only there to support their claims. In this thesis, I utilize this ‘bottom-up’ approach, testing through my case study—namely, the experiences of Dutch drag queens, specifically how they experience topics around lip-sync performances—to what extent their lived experience is in accordance with the theoretical works by which they are framed. Through interviews with Dutch drag queens, by attending drag shows, and by critically reviewing academic literature, I will test the discrepancy, or parallel, between the theory, and practice. I answer my research question in three parts; first, I measure the experiences of the drag queens and queerness, while assessing texts deriving from queer theory. Second, I asked the participants about their drag persona and representation, while looking at texts on audience participation, drag, and misogyny. Third, I asked the drag queens specifically about music, while analysing texts written from a musicological perspective, on canonization, camp, and lip-sync analysis. With this research, I want to contribute to an innovative way of conducting academic research; by creating space for marginalized voices to be the main creator of knowledge in academic research.