Death beyond Disavowal utilizes “difference” as theorized by women of color feminists to analyze works of cultural production by people of color as expressing a powerful antidote to the erasures of contemporary neoliberalism.
According to Grace Kyungwon Hong, neoliberalism is first and foremost a structure of disavowal enacted as a reaction to the successes of the movements for decolonization, desegregation, and liberation of the post--World War II era. It emphasizes the selective and uneven affirmation and incorporation of subjects and ideas that were formerly categorically marginalized, particularly through invitation into reproductive respectability. It does so in order to suggest that racial, gendered, and sexualized violence and inequity are conditions of the past, rather than the foundations of contemporary neoliberalism’s exacerbation of premature death. Neoliberal ideologies hold out the promise of protection from premature death in exchange for complicity with this pretense.
In Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, Cherríe Moraga’s The Last Generation and Waiting in the Wings, Oscar Zeta Acosta’s The Revolt of the Cockroach People, Ana Castillo’s So Far from God, Gayl Jones’s Corregidora, Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston, Inge Blackman’s B. D. Women, Rodney Evans’s Brother to Brother, and the work of the late Barbara Christian, Death beyond Disavowal finds the memories of death and precarity that neoliberal ideologies attempt to erase.
Hong posits cultural production as a compelling rejoinder to neoliberalism’s violences. She situates women of color feminism, often dismissed as narrow or limited in its effect, as a potent diagnosis of and alternative to such violences. And she argues for the importance of women of color feminism to any critical engagement with contemporary neoliberalism.
- rightsA portion of the Introduction was previously published as “Neoliberalism,” Critical Ethnic Studies 1, no. 1 (Spring 2015); reprinted by permission. An earlier version of chapter 1 was published as “Fun with Death and Dismemberment: Irony, Farce, and the Limits of Nationalism in Oscar Zeta Acosta’s Revolt of the Cockroach People and Ana Castillo’s So Far from God,” in Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011); reprinted by permission. A portion of chapter 2 was published as “Existentially Surplus: Women of Color Feminism and the New Crises of Capitalism,” GLQ 18, no. 1 (2012): 87–106; reprinted by permission. An earlier version of chapter 4 was published as “‘The Future of Our Worlds’: Black Feminism and the Politics of Knowledge in the University under Globalization,” Meridians 8, no. 2 (2008): 95–115; copyright Smith College; reprinted by permission from Indiana University Press.
Excerpt from Cherríe Moraga, “I Was Not Supposed to Remember,” from The Last Generation, copyright 1993 by Cherríe Moraga, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2015 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota
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