Michael's Reviews > In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives

In a Queer Time and Place by J. Jack Halberstam
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May 24, 10

bookshelves: social-theory-comps
Read in May, 2010

Some notes:

In A Queer Time and Place (2005), Judith Halberstam offers an analysis of temporality and geography regarding queer texts. She offers that we should "try to think about queerness as an outcome of strange temporalities, imaginative life schedules, and eccentric economic practices," in order to "detach queerness from sexual identity and come closer to understanding Foucault's comment in 'Friendship as a Way of Life' that 'homosexuality threatens people as a 'way of life' rather than as a way of having sex'" (1). Using "queer" to refer to "nonnormative logics," Halberstam understands queer temporality as imagining futures outside of the logics of "family, inheritance, and child rearing" (6, 2).

Halberstam also understands transgender bodies "as a contradictory site in postmodernism," which is situated in postmodern and neoliberal notions of flexible bodies (18). She explores the archive around Brandon Teena to explore notions of space and locality, questioning traditional queer narratives of progress from homophobic rural settings to open and safe urban settings. Brandon's story helps to "reveal the desire shared by many midwestern queers for a way of staying rather than leaving" (27). She also explores images of transgender people in film.

Chapter Five explores "technotopias," where Halberstam "trace[s:] the collision of postmodern space and postmodern embodiment in a technotopic aesthetic, or one that tests technological potentialities against the limits of the human body anchored in time and space, and that powerfully reimagines the relations between the organic and the machine, the toxic and the domestic, the surgical and the cosmetic" (103). Technotopic images, Halberstam argues, "resist idealizations of bodily integrity, on the one hand, and rationalizations of its disintegration, on the other; instead, they represent identity through decay, detachability, and subjectivity" (124).

Chapter Seven returns to queer temporality, arguing that queer subcultures question the conventional narratives of adulthood, breaking down lines between adolescent and adulthood and extending adolescence longer (152-153). She argues that "Queer subcultures encourage blurred boundaries between archivists and producers" (162) and that archives are not just repositories, but also constructions of memory and theories of relevance (169-170).
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