riley snorton (ph.d. in communication studies) is an assistant professor of communication studies at northwestern university. his research interests include rhetorical and cultural theory, queer diaspora, media anthropology, africana studies, performance studies, and popular culture. he is also a filmmaker (his documentary is entitled “men at work: transitioning on the job”). his first monograph, nobody is supposed to know: black sexuality on the down low is currently under contract with the university of minnesota press. (i caught his panel at the 2012 nwsa’s and he was a tremendously engaging speaker.)
jin haritaworn (ph.d. in sociology) is an assistant professor of environmental studies at york university. their main areas of interest include transnational race, gender, and sexuality studies, feminist/queer/trans of color theories and activisms, urban and environmental justice, gentrification, bio-/necro-/geopolitics, and violence/affect. they’ve penned and published two monographs (the biopolitics of mixing and queer lovers and hateful others) and a great deal of edited collections, articles, and essays. i’ve never seen them speak but i’d probably faint of awesomeness if i did.
- snorton and haritaworn explore the ways in which trans bodies of color (and, particularly, transfeminine bodies of color) targeted for death facilitate the enhancement of homo- and transnormative life. they examine the interrelationships between necropolitics (which points to the “centrality of death in contemporary social life” (66)) and biopower (“the carving out of subjects and populations” (ibid.)) evident in the vitalization of trans- and homonormative political projects as well as the development of a “newly professionalizing class of experts” (67) made possible by the extraction of surplus value from trans of color death.
- snorton interrogates the intricate network of beneficiaries produced by the afterlife of tyra hunter (a life valued only as the afterthought of a violent death). in order to be rendered suitable for expropriation, tyra’s life -structured both by illegibility and spectacle- required a series of postmortem translations in order to be reincorporated under the more legible/sanitized sign of gay masculinity (a sign unable to accommodate the disposability of aberrant queerness typically assigned to black bodies or the illegibility assigned to transfeminine bodies of color)
- haritaworn then discusses the production and incorporation of the german trans subject through a model of traumatized citizenship dependent on the threat of a racialized other (prefigured by existing scripts of muslim migrant homophobia). hate crimes discourse, the result of the performative labor undergirding and concealing the racialization of gender and sexuality, produces both a victim-citizen (whose incorporated excess gestures to the colossal tolerance of the body politic) and a homophobic (muslim) perpetrator (who is once again deemed unfit to reproduce -and be reproduced by- the nation). lodged firmly within urban policies of gentrification, touristification and securitization, the vitalization of homo- and transnormative political projects is wholly dependent on the spectacularized circulation of poor, trans(feminine) of color death.