Mel Chen’s path-breaking 2012 book Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect opened up entirely new fields of inquiry at the intersection of queer theory, animal studies, critical race theory, and new materialisms. In this session, we explore the line of thinking leading from animacy towards Professor Chen’s more recent research on the materialities of “constitution” and the co-imbrication of race and disability. What do ideas of animacy—and animality—tell us about human vulnerability and the futures our politics make for us?
Mel Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering and Queer Affect (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012). Chapters 4 & 5, pp. 127-188
Mel Y. Chen is Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley and an affiliate of the Center for Race and Gender, the Science and Technology Studies Center, and the Institute for Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences. Mel’s research and teaching interests include queer and gender theory, animal studies, critical race theory and Asian American studies, disability studies, science studies, and critical linguistics. In the Fall of 2009, Mel convened “Species Spectacles,” a UC Humanities Research Institute Residential Research Group focused on animality, sexuality and race. Mel’s short film, Local Grown Corn (2007), explores interweavings of immigration, childhood, illness and friendship; it has played in both Asian and queer film festivals. Mel’s book, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect, was released in July 2012 with Duke University Press in the Perverse Modernities series. In 2014, it won the Alan Bray Memorial Book Award, given by the GL/Q Caucus at the MLA.
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Animal Futures Working Group is supported by The Program in Critical Theory and organized by UC Berkeley graduate student Joshua Williams (Ph.D. Candidate, Performance Studies; DE in Critical Theory).