Biohacking Gender: Cyborgs, Coloniality, and the Pharmacopornographic Era

Angelaki 22 (2), 2017. 179-190.

Abstract: This essay explores how, for many minoritized peoples, cyborg ontology is experienced as dehumanizing rather than posthumanizing. Rereading Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto through a decolonial, transfeminist lens, it unpacks the implications of Haraway’s assertion that cyborg subjectivity is the “illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism” by examining the modern/colonial development and deployment of microprosthetic hormonal technologies – so often heralded as one of the technologies ushering in a queer, posthuman, post-gender future – as mechanisms of gendered and racialized subjective control operative at the level of the biomolecular.

Keywords: Cyborg Theory, Posthumanism, Critical Posthumanism, Transhumanism and Posthumanism, Hormone, Trans Studies, Decolonial Feminism, Transfeminism

Find the full text here.

Pedagogies of Becoming: Trans Inclusivity and the Crafting of Being

Transgender Studies Quarterly 2(3), 2015. 395-410.

Abstract: Conventional approaches to trans inclusion in the women’s, gender, and sexuality studies classroom often involve what Diana Courvant has called the “special guest” approach of bringing in trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming folk to represent and authenticate trans experiences, perspectives, and political engagements. This essay argues for the inadequacy of this pedagogical strategy, focusing on its complicity with a neoliberal politics of inclusion that fails to move students to deal with their own deep complicities in upholding understandings of sex and gender that are fundamentally transphobic, as well as its failure prompt pragmatic understanding and address of the maldistribution of life chances for trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming subjects. I offer several alternative strategies aimed at producing more deeply transformative types of trans inclusion in WGSS classrooms. These strategies focus on mapping connections between cis and trans experiences of gendered transformation in order to produce an alternative understanding of gender as process, craft, and becoming.

Keywords: pedagogy, trans inclusion, trans pedagogy, intersex studies, transfeminism

Find the full text here.


Utopian Pragmatics: Bash Back! and the Temporality of Radical Queer Action

in A Critical Inquiry into Queer Utopias, ed. Angela Jones. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 205-230.

Abstract: This paper locates the writing and activism of radical queer collective Bash Back! at the juncture of negation and radical inventiveness. Given Bash Back!’s commitment to a distinctly anti-academic, anti-institutional, and insurrectionary model of queer resistance, an engagement with the legacy, afterlives, and textual production of the collective tendency that travels under this moniker offers a way out of the worn circuits that constitute the insular and often circular debates of academic queer theory. Rather than framing the debate around the antisocial turn in queer theory as a mere rehearsal of the arguments that focus on the incompossibility of negation and futurity, engaging the work of Bash Back! offers another possibility. This work is deeply involved in thinking the co-presence of movements toward the utopic that are simultaneously negative, destructive, and violent. This engagement allows us to avoid reifying the notion that the construction of utopian imaginaries and the force of negation are somehow incompatible, or mutually exclusive.

Keywords: Bash Back!, Lee Edelman, No Future, reproductive futurism, Queer Ultraviolence, José Esteban Muñoz, sinthome, Lacan, Ernst Bloch, queer anarchism

Find the full text here.

Queer Monsters: Foucault, ‘Hermaphroditism,’ and Disability Studies

in The Imperfect Historian: Disability Histories in Europe, eds. Sebastian Barsch, Anne Klein & Pieter Verstraete. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2013.  113-132.

Abstract: This paper proposes two methods for reading Foucault’s interest in hermaphroditism. The first focuses on the function of hermaphroditism in his formulation of the interwoven concepts of governmentality and biopolitics; the second analyzes hermaphroditism insofar as it informs his work on ascesis, self-constitution, and political resistance. On the first reading, the discursive traces of hermaphroditic subjects that Foucault exhumes from the French medical and juridical archives work illustratively, dramatizing the transformation of a discourse on the legitimacy of sexed mixity, wherein ‘authentic’ hermaphroditism is possible, to one concerned with discerning the ‘true’ – that is, dimorphic – sex of a body. The intersex body works, in this type of analysis, as a dense node wherein techniques of governmentality become interwoven with a burgeoning modern biopolitics of sexual dimorphism, reproductive futurism, and a proliferation of technologies of corporeal modification in the name of morphological normalization. The second mode of analysis reads Foucault as interested in these piecemeal biographies of hermaphroditic subjects because they offer traces of lives shaped, at least in part, by pleasures experienced by a subject shaped within a ‘happy limbo of non-identity’ wherein one can ‘be without a definite sex’ without being ‘deprived of the delights…experienced in not having one’ (Foucault, Herculine Barbin, p. xiii). With this second approach the hermaphroditic body is reconceived as a line of flight, a repository of alternative sexual-social possibilities for ascetic self-construction within and against the structures of heternormative sexual dimorphism.

Keywords: Intersex Studies, Foucault, Biopolitics, Governmentality, Gilles Deleuze, Technologies of the Self, Monstrosity, Asceticism

Find the full text here.

The Waiting Room: Ontological Homelessness, Sexual Synecdoche, and Queer Becoming

in Journal of Medical Humanities special issue, Queer in the Clinic. 34 (2): 241-245. June 2013.


“For many intersex folk, the liminality of the waiting room amplifies the liminality that shapes much of the rest of our lives. It points up the impropriety and unintelligibility of our being. It is a space we enter into after we’ve been told, or have otherwise intuited, that there is something ‘odd’ or ‘off-track’ with respect to our sexed selves, but before receiving a full (and ostensibly true) medico-scientific account of precisely why and how our corporealities have swerved in the direction of the abnormal. We inhabit this space after our bodies have drifted from the normative realm of dimorphic (male/female) sex configuration and before being prescribed a recommended hormonal and surgical regimen that the physicians (as well as, sometimes, ourselves) hope will serve as a one-way ticket back into the realm of the normatively sexed. To be intersex in a waiting room is to be located in a moment between cognizing the collapse of the fundamental structures that give shape and sense to what Thomas Laqueur has called the “ontological granite” of biological sex – recognizing that bodies, including our own, come in more than standard issue boy/girl sets — and being told by medical professionals how to properly and non-subversively inhabit the ruins of commonsense understandings of sex. ”

Keywords: Intersex Studies, Disorders of Sex Development, Thomas Laqueur, Gayle Salamon, Medical Trauma

Find the full text here.

Nomad Science

Transgender Studies Quarterly 1(1-2), 2014.

Abstract: “Nomad science” is a concept that appears in the twelfth plateau (“1227: Treatise on Nomadology — the War Machine”) of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (1987: 361), counterposed to a companionate concept coined “state science.” These terms offer two distinct, incommensurable ways of thinking about bodily matter and embodied form. Nomad science emphasizes the malleable, fluid, and metamorphic nature of being, while state science conceptualizes being as solid, essential, and unchanging. Given the antiessentialist focus of nomad science, it is a particularly helpful concept in thinking transgender, transsexual, and gender-nonconforming modes of embodiment, particularly those that exceed or actively contest medical understandings of trans* identity. Conversely, state science is a useful heuristic for considering the medical and psychiatric pathologization of trans* and gender-nonconforming subjects. This short essay thinks through the implications of these linked conceptualizations of science for trans studies and trans activism.

Keywords: Deleuze, Deleuze and Guattari, Trans Studies, Nomad Science, State Science, Demedicalization, Queer Becoming, Sandy Stone, Susan Stryker, Dean Spade, Lucas Cassidy Crawford

Find the full text here.

What If It Doesn’t Get Better?: Suicide, Bad Feelings, and the Outside of Homonormativity

The American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and LGBT Issues. 11(2), Fall 2011

Abstract: This paper takes a close look at the politics of hope extant in the It Gets Better video project, conceived in late 2010 as a queer youth suicide prevention effort following the rash of heavily publicized suicides of (mostly white, male) gay youth that were allegedly elicited by extensive peer-group bullying. Situating the video project as an instantiation of what Ann Cvetkovich has termed an “archive of trauma,” I interrogate the unintended affective work done by this archive as it solidifies a counterpublic around queer trauma. In doing so, I pay particular attention to the homonormative tendencies implicit in the collective promise of a better future it offers. Building upon the work of German Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch on anamnesis and utopia, I conclude with a call for the necessity of a radical queer utopian imaginary as a necessary correlative to promising queer youth a better future in good faith. I position this task as one that can be fruitfully taken up by feminist philosophers committed to social justice, intersectional theorizing, and issues of livability and survival.

Keywords: Ernst Bloch, Anamnesis, Utopia, the It Gets Better Project, Queer Youth, Queer Suicide, Ann Cvetkovich, Trauma Archives, Existentialism,  Affect, Negative Affect, Tyler Clementi, Homonormativity, Trans Issues

Find the full text here.

The Becoming-Woman of the Young-Girls: Revisiting Riot Grrrl, Rethinking Girlhood

Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge (22) (2011)

Abstract:  This text offers an in-depth analysis of the very recently translated text by the French radical collective Tiqqun, “Raw Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl,” taking a look back at the rise (and demise) of the feminist/queer youth movement of Riot Grrrl through the lens offered by Tiqqun’s figuration of what they term the “Young-Girl.”  Tiqqun writes that “the Young-Girl is…the model citizen such as commodity society has defined it since world war one, as an explicit response to revolutionary threats against it.” I place the critical re-evaluation of girlhood offered by Riot Grrrl in considerable tension with the commoditization of subjectivity that the figure of the Young-Girl indexes,ultimately suggesting that the political theories found within the discursive space of Riot Grrrl are of enormous help in thinking about, and establishing social laboratories for, doing gender (in the context of communicative capitalism) differently.

Keywords: Tiqqun, Riot Grrrl, Post-Fordism, Communicative Capitalism, Girl Studies, ‘Third-Wave’ Feminisms, Commodity Culture, Pink-Collar Economies, Tertiary Sector, Service Industry

Find the full text here.

Medical Histories, Queer Futures: Imaging and Imagining Abnormal Corporealities

eSharp 16 (Winter 2010): Politics and Aesthetics

Abstract: This paper explores the political and epistemic work done by ostensibly denotative and reproducible imaging technologies in the process of establishing a scientific concept of sexual dimorphism. Beginning with an account of the prehistory of medical gender assignation in cases of intersexuality, it examines medical photographs of queer corporealities in order to ask after the political and epistemological work done by these images as well as the politics of biomedicine traceable in the orchestration of these images. Building upon Foucault’s writing on hermaphroditism and Thomas Laqueur’s work on the decline of a ‘one-sex’ (1990) system of sex intelligibility, it pairs these insights with Deleuze and Guattari’s theorization of the function of faciality in the service of subjective biunivocalization (1987) in order to examine the function of the black bar or blurred face in medical photography. I argue that this trope of medical photodocumentation works to both secure the authority of the medical practitioner as modest witness (Haraway 1997) as well as place the queer body imaged in an ontological caesura while proper – that is, male or female – subjecthood is adjudicated upon. This tropology of desubjectivation is often coupled, in the medical photography of queer corporealities, with what Linda Williams has called the ‘principle of maximum visibility,’ visually indexed by perspectival multplication. While Williams theorizes this principle in the context of an analysis of pornography, this paper maps a certain consanguinity between medical photography and pornography insofar as both seek to image certain heretofore ineluctable ‘truths’ of sex.

Keywords: Feminist Science Studies, Medical Photography, Minorities in Representation, Power and Image Hierarchies, Queer Theory, Deleuze and Guattari, Linda Williams,Donna Haraway, Thomas Laqueur, Intersex Conditions, Photo Theory

Find the full text here.

Situating Bio-Logic, Refiguring Sex: Intersexuality and Coloniality 

in Critical Intersex, ed. Morgan Holmes. Surrey, England: Ashgate Press, 2009.  73-96.

From Morgan Holme’s introduction: Malatino “directs our attention to power and colonization as it operates in scientific disciplines focused on the appearance/development of monstrous bodies. Malatino’s work asks us to examine the standard scientific orderings of gender, of sex, and of those monstrous bodies that defy traditional categorization in the binary logic of gender. Working principally through the theoretical apparatus supplied by Kristeva’s (1980) understanding of the symbolic power of those states apprehended as ‘abject,’ Malatino situates the monstrous/intersex body in the larger context of scientific efforts to rationalize the meat of bodies into the proper constraints of the social. Malatino explains the taxonomic fascination with bodies that refute ‘bio-logic’ and directs our attention to discourses that determine who will receive, and who will be denied, ‘human rights.'”

Keywords: Maria Lugones, the coloniality of power, Anibal Quijano, Walter Mignolo, Julie Kristeva, Mary Douglas, Abjection, Intersex Studies, Monstrosity, the Modern/Colonial Gender System, Elizabeth Grosz, Rosi Braidotti

Find the full text here.

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