Academic journal article Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Architectures of 'The Good Life': Queer Assemblages and the Composition of Intimate Citizenship

Academic journal article Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Architectures of 'The Good Life': Queer Assemblages and the Composition of Intimate Citizenship

Article excerpt

"Sexuality has become the complex place disciplined by norms, hierarchical ideologies of intelligibility that link external states to projections about a kind of subject's internal worth. But ... sexuality is also the place where atmospheres of affective discernment and emotional creativity engender possibilities for better reciprocity that were not defeated by political norms or institutions." Berlant (2009, page 264)

Introduction

Thinking of sexuality as a 'complex place' opens it up to a spatiotemporal imagination that highlights it as a mobile juncture where different sociomaterial, political, and affective components come together in shifting formations of varying intensity and for variable periods of time. In other words, it allows us to think of sexuality as an assemblage: a process of heterogeneous attachments and detachments to norms, memories, objects, pleasures, and many other things that intimately affect how one desires and gets aroused. (1) Yet how is this assemblage able to animate "atmospheres of affective discernment and emotional creativity" that "engender possibilities for better reciprocity that [are] not defeated by political norms or institutions" (Berlant, 2009, page 264)? This is the main question that guides this paper, in which I examine how the practices and events of queer collectivity might encourage us to think differently about the relationship between sexuality, intimacy, and citizenship, as well as their close connections to iterations of community and political agency. I realize that I am taking on a number of highly complex and overdetermined concepts whose genealogies reach far beyond the confines of my current objective, but while I have no pretenses about overcoming their internal and external antinomies, I do hope to recalibrate our attention to their embodied, material, and affective incarnations in everyday life. Through the exposition and discussion of four 'scenes', based on my engagements with various LGBT collectives in Baltimore, MD, I attend to the visceral registers in which a sense of community comes into being, and subsequently develop an understanding of intimacy as a transversal sphere in which political and civic practices are cultivated. Although I choose not to circumscribe the meaning of 'the political' or 'citizenship' in advance, preferring instead to demonstrate how they are constituted and made meaningful in particular practices of queer world-making, I will elucidate my use of these concepts by juxtapositioning my project alongside a body of scholarship--located predominantly in human geography and sociology--that has accumulated around the term 'sexual' or 'intimate citizenship' (eg, Bell, 1995; Bell and Binnie, 2000; Brown, 2006; Evans, 1993; Hubbard, 2001; Plummer, 2003; Weeks, 1998). While providing a comprehensive overview of this work is beyond the scope of this paper, I would like to begin by briefly addressing four common themes that characterize this specific strand of research.

First, research on 'sexual/intimate citizenship' stresses the embodied and sexed nature of citizenship, consequently critiquing its heteronormative historical formations. Second, these initial assessments are usually followed by discussions of the various spaces in which this heteronormative hegemony is contested or negotiated by sexual minorities, such as the law, the market, the military, the city, the family, and the media. Third, these discussions have been marked by an analytical and critical preoccupation with representational politics-- taking place within a globalized media culture--and claims for sexual rights, recognition, and space--proceeding in the courtroom and in the streets. Finally, studies on sexual citizenship primarily employ textual and media-analytic methods of inquiry and have largely refrained from ethnographic explorations of how its key terms are articulated in the vicissitudes of everyday life. To be sure, the theme of everydayness in relation to sexuality, intimacy, and citizenship has certainly received its share of attention in sexual citizenship research, which has persistently addressed queer people's daily struggles in the different institutional spaces mentioned above. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.