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Update on Independent Study

smalina's picture

So since last week I read a couple of theoretical pieces:

"Transgender People of Color at the Center: Conceptualizing a New Intersectional Model," by Kylan Mattias de Vries - using the image of a multifaceted prism, de Vries talks about intersectionality and standpoint theory, using them as lenses to explore the experiences of a number of trans POC whose experiences differ drastically from white trans folks who are interviewed (thus unsettling popular notions of "trans experience"). Importantly, de Vries names the fact that many trans POC may not identify their gender identity as identity that is most significant to them, particularly in a society where racial profiling is often the initial cause of violent interactions with white authorities. 

"Transgender Theory and Embodiment: The Risk of Racial Marginalisation," by Katrina Roen - Roen draws from interviews with trans indigenous folks living in New Zealand, to argue for a more inclusive, less white-assuming, trans/queer theory. She does this by arguing that many people's identities and lives would not fit into any existing categories in white Western frameworks of gender, and that connections between individuals, families, communities, and identities render many popular understandings of gender ineffective. (This was also helpful because it had a rural element, and associated Western notions of trans with urban, cosmopolitan areas--many of those interviewed expressed distate with these ways of viewing gender, and didn't want to live in the city because of it). 

"'My Father Didn't Have a Dick': Social Death and Jackie Kay's Trumpet," by Matt Richardson - this piece is hard to summarize, as it discusses a number of themes that span the length of Trumpet (which I haven't read yet). But it focuses on the notion of social death, and Richardson writes: "I contend that the undoing and reworking of black gender categories is a key facet of social death" (361). He analogizes this death to the literal death of Joss, the deceased jazz musician, and in turn explores the possibility to "transform positionality into potential" (362). More on this one when I've read the text it's discussing!

I requested Trumpet from the Haverford library so it's still on its way over, and I'll read that (along with probably another theoretical piece or two) for next Tuesday, so I'll have some grounding for my thinking and can begin to think across Trumpet and Getting Mother's Body.


Anne Dalke's picture

it looks as though you are now imagining a comparative analysis of Trumpet and Getting Mother’s Body? Interesting thought, and I can already see quite a few intriguing intersections, not-quite-parallels between the stories; am also wondering how you’ll bridge the divide between ‘60s Glasgow and West Texas.

I’m familiar with the concept of social death from Orlando Patterson’s 1982 book, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (and think bluish might also be helpful to you in understanding that term, as it's used in afro-pessimism). I've also heard "social death" used in health studies, to describe a person who lacks the capacity to communicate with others. But I haven’t yet encountered it as a way to understand gender categories, and am intrigued…Let’s see where this can go! A.