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Chase Dimock

Writer, Editor, and Researcher in Comparative Literature and LGBT Studies

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Kritik

Review of Judith Halberstam’s “The Killer in Me is the Killer in You: Homosexuality and Fascism”

Beyond merely cataloguing homosexuality’s flirtations with fascist politics and iconography, Judith Halberstam’s lecture sought to question the very core of historical research in queer studies by asking “how do we do or not do gay history?” For Halberstam, the key question is: what parts of queer history we ignore or leave uninvestigated because of political inconvenience, or because we wish to repress certain objectionable past practices from consciousness.

Calling upon George Chauncey’s notion of queer history as a “repressed archive”, Halberstam argued that while queer scholarship has often uncovered narratives that had remained buried in the back of the closet, it has also tended only to pull from that closet the voices and histories that support an unquestioned progress narrative of queer culture. The skeletons that do not please the historian remain closeted.

Halberstam appealed against this logic of selective history, arguing that this vision of queer history has painted a distorted picture of the 20th century in which gays and lesbians are portrayed as perpetual victims of a universal, culturally unspecific homophobia. Instead, Halberstam proposed that we pay more attention to the history of gay collaboration with the production of fascist ideology and imagery while stating that the goal should not be to settle the issue on one correct history, but to explore “the ethics of complicity” with fascism alongside other narratives.

(Full article available at Kritik)

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Paper Dolls and The Global Heart Transplant: A Few Reflections on Martin Manalansan’s “Travels of Disaffection: Labor, Affect, and Migration”

Manalansan injected his lecture for the Unit for Criticism with the tone of an intervention into the increasingly heteronormative perspective of recent scholarly work published on gender and migration. Specifically, he questioned the “chain of care” paradigm, which he defines as

A linear concatenation of bodies and feelings propelled by the migration of Third World women to the First World. Third World women are torn away from their biological families and forced to leave their children in the care of poorer women in the homeland, to take care of the progeny of modern working mothers of the first world.

In their 2003 book Global Woman, Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild argue that this chain of care results in a “global heart transplant,” where the domestic labor of these third world women is uprooted from their native land and relocated in the first world where their employment as care workers takes on the function of surrogate or supplementary mothers, wives, daughters and other affective, pseudo-familial roles.

Manalansan placed this unquestioned equation of care work with the affective assumptions of femininity under a queer critique, speculating, “What if we include such queer creatures as gay men, single and married women with no “maternal instinct,” and transgendered persons into the mix? How can we queer this particular migratory diaspora without dismissing the struggles of some of its constituents?”

(Full article available at Kritik)

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