Judith Butler’s concept of gender performativity revolutionized the way that academics conceive of gender, and has subsequently become a critical perspective for feminist and queer analyses in a variety of disciplines. The new anthropology of genders and sexualities uses this theoretical framework and focuses specifically on “institutions of ambiguity” that challenge gender dichotomies across the globe. Such institutions highlight the importance of understanding gendered and sexualized categorizations as cultural constructions embedded in a specific historical, spatial and cultural context. Continuing in that tradition, this paper is an examination of drag queens in contemporary American culture, with a specific focus on the politics of drag performance. With historical roots that can be traced back to Shakespearian theater, the practice of drag performance in the United States has evolved over time, yet it continues to challenge traditional notions of masculinity and femininity in American culture. Data collected from literature, fieldwork experiences, interviews, film, and social networking and video sharing websites will be utilized to examine the meaning of drag and the lives of those who perform in it.
"Front and Center: An Anthropological Analysis of Drag Queens in American Culture,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2009, Article 13.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2009/iss1/13