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Summer Kim Lee

Summer Kim Lee is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. Her dissertation, “Peripheral Presence: Race, Gender, Media, and the Performance of Detachment,” examines how performances of detachment enact a women of color feminist critique of transnational representations of race and gender in contemporary media. She has served as Managing Editor of Women & Performance and has published in Journal of Popular Music Studies (2013).

“Voices on the Other Side: Siouxsie Sioux’s White Femininity and Capacious Vocality”
This paper considers how British post-punk singer Siouxsie Sioux’s voice fills out a resonant space for rethinking white women and white femininity’s relation to Orientalism and Modernist Primitivism. I argue that there is a capaciousness and multiplicity to Sioux’s voice, by engaging with Siouxsie and the Banshees’ B-sides, “Voices (On the Air)” (1978) and “Eve White / Eve Black” (1980), which accompanied the band’s well-known singles, “Hong Kong Garden” and “Christine.” In focusing on the B-sides for two songs that played with racial fetishism to convey the exotic and the pathological, I address how Sioux’s voice resonates and multiplies from the other side to produce a capacious vocality between the A- and B-side, between white women and racialized fantasy. In other words, Sioux’s voice is not solely that which enables and shores up the relation between white women and racialized fantasy. Rather, her voice undermines and loosens this relation often figured as cramped, thereby leaving no room for women of color, or specifically for Asian/American and Black women and their modes of desire and fantasy. As capacious vocality, Sioux’s voice is not just an appropriating force of white femininity, but also becomes a vehicle through which the pleasures of listening to music and the desire and fantasy it conveys for those who are said to be excluded, precisely for women of color who might not recognize themselves within the music, can move through and take part.

“The Racial Publics of Siouxsie Sioux”
Since emerging from the London punk scene of the mid-1970s, Siouxsie Sioux’s iconic wail has crawled through the dark hallways and corners of myriad countercultures. Moving from punk to post-punk, or goth to pop, Sioux reigns supreme over an audience of misfits that reach from the disaffected youth of her suburban, south-east London childhood to Latino fan culture in contemporary Los Angeles. This panel offers a series of critical meditations on the work of Siouxsie Sioux, focusing in particular on Siouxsie’s voice as it resonates throughout a host of minoritarian lifeworlds. The panelists—drawn from a range of fields that include performance studies, Asian American studies, Latino/a studies, and critical ethnic studies—offer a series of meditation inflected by queer of color critique and woman of color feminism in order to explore the racial publics of Siouxsie Sioux. That is, the panel theorizes the interanimation between Siouxsie Sioux’s work and minoritarian cultural practices. Chambers-Letson suggests that we might hear the sound of a communism of incommensurability as it emerges from the intersection of punk and Blackness in the appropriation of Siouxsie’s voice by contemporary acts The Weeknd and Santigold. Lee articulates Siouxsie’s voice as a critical site for rethinking the relationship between white women and white femininity and the aesthetic traditions of Orientalism and modernist primitivism. Ramos explores how Siouxsie’s voice offers queer and feminist Latino/a listeners a mode of being together rooted in non-productivity and friendship. Finally, Rodriguez offers a meditation on the temporal limits of punk, exploring Siouxsie and the Banshee’s disavowal of the constraints of identification and, by extension, identity. This panel will thus explore Sioux’s voice as it resonates within and across the black and brown undercommons.

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