In this talk Jasbir Puar historically situated the most current intersectional flavours of the day, ‘trans’ and ‘disabled’, which both come into being, or becoming, in the early 90s in the academy as well as in broader political terms and movements. She looked at how their parallel yet rarely intersecting epistemological constructs require exceptionalizing both the trans body and the disabled body in order to convert the debility of a non-normative body into a form of social and cultural capacity, whether located in state recognition, identity politic formations, market economies, the medical industrial complex, or subject positioning. Puar argued that the potential politics of trans disability are seemingly only perceived in terms of the intersectional ‘trans-disabled subject’ or the ‘disabled trans subject’. Using assemblage theory to advance the relationships between trans and disability beyond an intersectional rubric of subject identification, she elaborated a politics of conviviality through engagements with the medicalization of the body that might de-exceptionalize the transgressive tendencies of trans and disabled in favour of a shared politics.
Jasbir Puar is Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at Rutgers. She is the author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Duke University Press 2007), winner of the Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. Her edited volumes include a special issue of GLQ (‘Queer Tourism: Geographies of Globalization’) and co-edited volumes of Society and Space (‘Sexuality and Space’), Social Text (‘Interspecies’), and Women’s Studies Quarterly (‘Viral’). Puar’s major awards include a Rockefeller Fellowship, a Ford Foundation grant, and the 2013 Modern Languages Association Gay Lesbian/Queer Caucus Michael Lynch Award in recognition of her years of scholar-activist work. Her monograph Affective Politics: States of Debility and Capacity is forthcoming with Duke University Press in 2014.
The lecture is part of the ICI Lecture Series Constituting Wholes II, which seeked to re-examine the critical potential of notions of wholeness by exploring the double movement in constituting wholes. How are wholes and other forms of association differently constituted and how do they constitute their parts or elements? How can one maintain a critical position towards persistent wholes without making them inescapable and foreclosing the possibility of reducing violence and arriving at more benign forms of association? Conversely, how can one be attuned to heterogeneities and potentialities without participating in the reparation of existing structures of domination? Conceived within the framework of the multi-discipinary ICI Research Focus ‘Constituting Wholes’, the lecture series addressed and debated these and similar questions from a variety of perspectives.
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