Liminal periods in politics often serve as points in time when traditional methods and principles organizing society are disrupted. These periods of interregnum may not always result in complete social upheaval, but they do open the space to imagine social and political change in diverse forms. In Queering the Enlightenment: kinship and gender in the literature of eighteenth-century France, Tracy Rutler uncovers how numerous canonical authors of the 1730s and 40s were imagining radically different ways of organizing the masses during the early years of Louis XV's reign. Through studies of the literature of Antoine François Prévost, Claude Crébillon, Pierre de Marivaux, and Françoise de Graffigny among others, Rutler demonstrates how the heteronormative bourgeois family's rise to dominance in late-eighteenth-century France had long been contested within the fictional worlds of many French authors. The utopian impulses guiding the fiction studied in this book distinguish these authors as some of the most brilliant political theorists of the day. Enlightenment, for these authors, means reorienting one's relation to power by reorganizing their most intimate relations. Using a practice of reading queerly, Rutler shows how these works illuminate the unparalleled potential of queer forms of kinship to dismantle the patriarchy and help us imagine what might eventually take its place.
Some days—or weeks, or months, or even years—being trans feels bad. Yet as Hil Malatino points out, there is little space for trans people to think through, let alone speak of, these bad feelings. Negative emotions are suspect because they unsettle narratives of acceptance or reinforce virulently phobic framings of trans as inauthentic and threatening.
In Side Affects, Malatino opens a new conversation about trans experience that acknowledges the reality of feeling fatigue, envy, burnout, numbness, and rage amid the ongoing onslaught of casual and structural transphobia in order to map the intricate emotional terrain of trans survival. Trans structures of feeling are frequently coded as negative on both sides of transition. Before transition, narratives are framed in terms of childhood trauma and being in the “wrong body.” Posttransition, trans individuals—especially trans people of color—are subject to unrelenting transantagonism. Yet trans individuals are discouraged from displaying or admitting to despondency or despair.
By moving these unloved feelings to the center of trans experience, Side Affects proposes an affective trans commons that exists outside political debates about inclusion. Acknowledging such powerful and elided feelings as anger and exhaustion, Malatino contends, is critical to motivating justice-oriented advocacy and organizing—and recalibrating new possibilities for survival and well-being.
White Belongings: Race, Land, and Property in Post-Apartheid South Africa
White Belongings: Race, Land, and Property in Post-Apartheid South Africa deepens ongoing critical deconstruction of the role of whiteness in maintaining racial order. Scott Burnett , argues that the protection of white entitlement and cultural connection to the land are intimately interwoven, using detailed discourse analysis of campaigns aimed at preventing rhino poaching, stopping fracking in the Karoo, and advocating for the existence of a poverty “crisis,” which reveal how whites hold on to their “belongings” in everyday talk. White Belongings goes beyond the preoccupation with identity in whiteness studies to elaborate how specific subject roles and institutions are motivated and rationalized in hegemonic discursive regimes.
Trans Care is a critical intervention in how care labor and care ethics have been thought, arguing that dominant modes of conceiving and critiquing the politics and distribution of care entrench normative and cis-centric familial structures and gendered arrangements. A serious consideration of trans survival and flourishing requires a radical rethinking of how care operates.
Queer Embodiment: Monstrosity, Medical Violence and Intersex Experience
Merging critical theory, autobiography, and sexological archival research, Queer Embodiment provides insight into what it means, and has meant, to have a legible body in the West. Hilary Malatino explores how and why intersexuality became an anomalous embodiment requiring correction and how contesting this pathologization can promote medical reform and human rights for intersex and trans persons.
Malatino traces both institutional and interpersonal failures to dignify non–sexually dimorphic bodies and examines the ways in which the ontology of gender difference developed by modern sexologists conflicts with embodied experience. Malatino comprehensively shows how gender-normalizing practices begin at the clinic but are then amplified over time at both intimate and systemic levels, through mechanisms of institutional exclusion and through contemporary Eurocentric cultures’ cis-centric and bio-normative understanding of sexuality, reproductive capacity, romantic partnership, and kinship.
Combining personal accounts with archival evidence, Malatino presents intersexuality as the conceptual shibboleth of queerness, the figure through which nonnormative genders and desires are, and have been historically, understood. The medical, scientific, and philosophical discourse on intersexuality underlying our contemporary understanding of sexed selfhood requires theoretical and ethical reconsideration in order to facilitate understanding gender anew as an intra-active and continually differentiating process of becoming that exceeds and undoes restrictive binary logic.
In the United States, egg donation for reproduction and egg donation for research involve the same procedures, the same risks, and the same population of donors—disadvantaged women at the intersections of race and class. Yet cultural attitudes and state-level policies regarding egg donation are dramatically different depending on whether the donation is for reproduction or for research. Erin Heidt-Forsythe explores the ways that framing egg donation itself creates diverse politics in the United States, which, unlike other Western democracies, has no centralized method of regulating donations, relying instead on market forces and state legislatures to regulate egg donation and reproductive technologies.
Beginning with a history of scientific research around the human egg, the book connects historical debates about the “natural” (reproduction) and “unnatural” (research) uses of women’s eggs to contemporary political regulation of egg donation. Examining egg donation in California, New York, Arizona, and Louisiana and coupled with original data on how egg donation has been regulated over the last twenty years, this book is the first comprehensive overview and analysis of the politics of egg donation across the United States.
The Color of Kink: Black Women, BDSM, and Pornography
The Color of Kink explores black women's representations and performances within American pornography and BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism) from the 1930s to the present, revealing the ways in which they illustrate a complex and contradictory negotiation of pain, pleasure, and power for black women.
Based on personal interviews conducted with pornography performers, producers, and professional dominatrices, visual and textual analysis, and extensive archival research, Ariane Cruz reveals BDSM and pornography as critical sites from which to rethink the formative links between Black female sexuality and violence. She explores how violence becomes not just a vehicle of pleasure but also a mode of accessing and contesting power. Drawing on feminist and queer theory, critical race theory, and media studies, Cruz argues that BDSM is a productive space from which to consider the complexity and diverseness of black women's sexual practice and the mutability of black female sexuality. Illuminating the cross-pollination of black sexuality and BDSM, The Color of Kink makes a unique contribution to the growing scholarship on racialized sexuality.
Winner of the MLA's 2016 Alan Bray Prize for Best Book in GLBTQ Studies
How do Muslims fit into South Africa’s well-known narrative of colonialism, apartheid and postapartheid?
South Africa is infamous for apartheid, but the country’s foundation was laid by 176 years of slavery from 1658 to 1834, which formed a crucible of war, genocide and systemic sexual violence that continues to haunt the country today. Enslaved people from East Africa, India and South East Asia, many of whom were Muslim, would eventually constitute the majority of the population of the Cape Colony, the first of the colonial territories that would eventually form South Africa.
Drawing on an extensive popular and official archive, Regarding Muslims analyses the role of Muslims from South Africa’s founding moments to the contemporary period and points to the resonance of these discussions beyond South Africa. It argues that the 350-year archive of images documenting the presence of Muslims in South Africa is central to understanding the formation of concepts of race, sexuality and belonging.
In contrast to the themes of extremism and alienation that dominate Western portrayals of Muslims, Regarding Muslims explores an extensive repertoire of picturesque Muslim figures in South African popular culture, which oscillates with more disquieting images that occasionally burst into prominence during moments of crisis. This pattern is illustrated through analyses of etymology, popular culture, visual art, jokes, bodily practices, oral narratives and literature. The book ends with the complex vision of Islam conveyed in the postapartheid period.
In Idi Amin’s Shadow: Women, Gender, and Militarism in Uganda
In Idi Amin’s Shadow is a rich social history examining Ugandan women’s complex and sometimes paradoxical relationship to Amin’s military state. Based on more than one hundred interviews with women who survived the regime, as well as a wide range of primary sources, this book reveals how the violence of Amin’s militarism resulted in both opportunities and challenges for women. Some assumed positions of political power or became successful entrepreneurs, while others endured sexual assault or experienced the trauma of watching their brothers, husbands, or sons “disappeared” by the state’s security forces. In Idi Amin’s Shadow considers the crucial ways that gender informed and was informed by the ideology and practice of militarism in this period. By exploring this relationship, Alicia C. Decker offers a nuanced interpretation of Amin’s Uganda and the lives of the women who experienced and survived its violence.