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Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics
There is more to identity than identifying with one’s culture or standing solidly against it. José Esteban Muñoz looks at how those outside the racial and sexual mainstream negotiate majority culture—not by aligning themselves with or against exclusionary works but rather by transforming these works for their own cultural purposes. Muñoz calls this process “disidentificati ...more
Paperback, 227 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Univ Of Minnesota Press
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A few weeks into their relationship, Sean proposed marriage to Pedro and Pedro accepted. In response, the show's other "star" presence, Puck, decided to one-up the queer couple by proposing marriage to his new girlfriend Toni. Puck stands as proof that not all counterpublics challenge the way in which the social is organized by the dominant culture. Puck's counterpublic is a juvenile version of rugged individualism; it represents a sort of soft anarchism that relativizes all political struggles...more
Disidentification is a "world-making" process for minoritarian subjects, Muñoz states in the closing chapter of his book (p. 197). This world-making process utilizes performance as a method in which individuals can create an environment where identities that do not conform can exercise freedom of being, which is to say that this process performs subtle subversions as a creative way to engage with a state of being. The mere concept of disindetification alludes to the "construction site" that is i ...more
This one grew on me. Munyoz isn't the most lucid writer ever, and I've noticed that a lot of people spend a lot of time searching the theoretical introduction to this book looking for a clear definition of disidentification that is never forthcoming. Over time I've come to see that as a strength. Though Munyoz does have a clear idea in mind for the work he wants disidentification to do, he develops it through investigating the way disidentification works in the cultural productions of a handful ...more
An incredibly important book for any scholar of queer studies or those interested in queer of color critique. Where the book is weakest, however, is its repetitive cycles. Further, the book gives nearly a dozen definitions of disidentification and makes the very term seem almost meaningless. despite these critiques, it is a marvelous work which can be valuable to almost any scholar.
This work inspires and re-inspires every time I pick it up. Muñoz formulates a concept of disidentification as a political/survival strategy for queers of color, and he supports his theory by examining the performances of queers of color as theory-makers in their own right. Muñoz effectively situates the political salience for queer performance and performance art.
He can be slow in getting to the point in some of these essays, but when he does it is usually profound. The chapter on Pedro Zamora from the Real World is particularly masterful. Munoz carries the project of critical theory into the 21st century in dazzling form.
I won't recommend this for everyone because it's pretty dense. I'm not even convinced that I entirely got it. However, it showed me a lot about racism, white supremacy and gender identities in the pop art world, and about how creating a counter to counter-cultures helps fight those issues.