Bobby Benedicto is assistant professor of media and sexuality at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His research interests lie at the intersections of queer theory, critical race theory, and death studies. His first book, Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), received an honorable mention for the 2015 Ruth Benedict Prize for Queer Anthropology and was a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Studies. He is currently working on two book projects: Fatal Sex, a series of essays on the role of necroaesthetics in 21st century gay-themed art and media; and Queer Afterlives, an ethnographic study of queer performances set in the decaying Brutalist buildings erected in Metropolitan Manila during the Marcos dictatorship (1965-1986).

Bobby Benedicto holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of Melbourne, Australia. His postdoctoral research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the ICI Berlin. At McGill, he is jointly appointed in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies and the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF). He is review and online editor for Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Fatal Sex

ICI Affiliate Project 2018

This project tracks the evolving relationship of non-normative sexuality to death and mortality through a series of studies on 21st century art and media. From images of murderous homosexuality, to cinematic representations of necrophilia and hybristophilia, to the digital afterlives of pre-AIDS vintage pornography, to underground techno’s aesthetics of decay, the project examines how queer attachments to an erotics of death endure in the face of present-day structures of violence and the politics of survival they have come to engender. By bringing together an archive of aesthetic and cultural practices that draw force from sexuality’s desubjectivizing negativity and yet bespeak the real horrors of loss and fatality, the project stages an encounter between psychoanalytic and necropolitical accounts of the lethal nature of perverse sexuality.

In so doing, it draws attention to the precarity of distinctions made between psychic dissolution and biological death, the figurative and the literal, and fantasy and reality and to the varied ways such distinctions operate to withhold an erotics of death from those who are marked for death and who are subsequently bound to notions of hope, generativity, and life itself.

Bright Lights, Gay Globality:
Queer World-making in Metropolitan Manila

ICI Project 2011-13

Bright Lights, Gay Globality is an ethnographic study of mobility, class, and gay life in 21st century Manila. Drawing on postcolonial queer studies and on critical theories of race, affect and mobility, the study traces the emergence of a ‘bright lights gay scene’, a culturally imaginary space produced by/for privileged Filipino gay men who are simultaneously embedded in a third world city and plugged into a virtual gay globality through teletechnomedia apparatuses. Arising out of tensions between the invincible facticity of location and the never-to-be-completed task of becoming-global, the scene is re-presented in this project as a multistable figure.

It appears as an effect of the urban frictions that inspire the making of a first world in the third world, as a space produced in response to dominant heteronormative orders, and as a symptom of the structuring force of fantasy-desires for an always elusive gay modernity. By examining the world-making practices of locally privileged and globally marginal gay men through different spatial registers, the project demonstrates how the figure of the third world queer occupies contradictory positions in incommensurate diagrams of power.