Disidentification

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I thought it was about time to offer another reading reflection. I feel especially compelled to write about disidentification because I find this concept to be very exciting and helpful. 

So in class tomorrow (11.10), we will be discussing the introduction to Jose Esteban Munoz's Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. In this chapter, "Performing Disidentifications," Munoz examines how a wide range of cultural workers (as culture makers and theory producers) "imagine a world where queer lives, politics, and possibilities are representable in their complexity" (1). Disidentification--as a concept distinct from identification/assimilation and counteridentifical/anti-assimilation--is central to Munoz's understanding of how to imagine complex (and complicated) queer lives and practices.

So, what is disidentification? Here is what Munoz writes on page 4:

Disidentification is meant to be descriptive of the survival strategies the minority subject practices in order to negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously elides or punishes the existence of subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship.

Here are some more thoughts from the chapter:

  • Not always an adequate strategy (5)
  • About negotiating identity scripts/socially encoded rules that are available (6)
  • Influences: Chela Sandoval, Norma Alcaron, Cherie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua (7), Crenshaw (8) and This Bridge Called My Back (22)
  • Involves deeply engaging with ideas/theories and using them, but not identifying with them (9)
  • Not good subjects or bad subjects, but dissing subjects who try to transform a cultural logic from within (11)
  • Being misrecognized, as standing under a sign (like human or normal) to which one (as queer) does/does not belong (12)
  • Not to pick and choose theories/ideas or to willfully reject, but to rework and invest them with new life (12)
  • Not an apolitical middle ground (between accepting or rejecting/fitting in or refusing to fit in) (18)
  • About negotiating strategies of resistance with discourses and counterdiscourses... shifting as quickly as power (a la Foucault) (19)
  • While it involves being hailed into existence--by answering the call from ideologies (interprellation), it also involves a reshaping of that call--a shared impulse and drive toward justice. It is the singing of a song that is not ours, but that we infuse/reshape with our own energy/passion (21).
  • Foundational text: This Bridge Called My Back (22)
  • Involves many different (often conflicting and positioned beside/against each other) scripts...not just heteronormativity, but also white normativity (22)
  • The remaking and rewriting of a dominant script and the public sphere in ways that minoritarian subject's eyes are no longer marginal (23)
  • Utopia...infused with humor and hope and camp sensibilities (25)
  • Resists, demystifies, deconstructs (26)
  • Short-circuiting (28)
  • About expanding and problematizing identity and identification, not abandoning any socially prescribed identity component (29)
  • Going against the grain and turning towards shadows and fissures (29)
  • Recycling and rethinking encoded meaning...not just cracking the code, but using the code as raw material for representing the disempowered (31)
  • Hybrid (31-32)
  • Failing to be fully hailed into existence (33)

Munoz introduces a number of different examples from the cultural work of queers of color: Marga's Bed, Baldwin's "fictional" novel, Hidaldgo's film Marginal Eyes, This Bridge Called My Back. Were any of those examples particularly helpful as you worked throught Munoz's ideas? Can you think of some examples of disidentification?

How do you understand disidentification in relation to resistance and rejection?

What sort of resistance is it and to what? Does it demand/discourage rejection?

How might disidentifcation relate to the term you are tracking?