Defining Ratchet: Ratchet and Boojie Politics in Black Queer Space



In the essay “‘Quare’ Studies, or (Almost) Everything I Know about Queer Studies I Learned from My Grandmother” E. P. Johnson provides an etymology and definition of the word quare, wherein, following Alice Walker’s definition of womanism (Walker 1983), Johnson lays out his understanding of what “quare” means. Quare, according to Johnson (Johnson 2001) is a Southern African American English variant of the word queer and it does a particular kind of work to animate the specificity of (Southern) Black queer experience within what had begun to emerge within academia as “queer studies” (Johnson 2001). In this spirit, and following Johnson (2001) “out on a limb,” I offer here what I consider to be a preliminary etymology and definition of ratchet. It is culled together from the way interlocutors in both formal and informal interviews used the word during my time in the field, but in no way is it meant to stand in for or be treated as the actual definition which is in constant flux. Instead, I am interested in its function and use value to those who put the word into practice.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Washington, DCUSA

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