In this review, I consider recent works by José Esteban Muñoz (Cruising Utopia), Judith (Jack) Halberstam (The Queer Art of Failure), and Christopher Castiglia and Christopher Reed (If Memory Serves) as investments in the politics of queer futurity. Collectively, I analyze these works as offering both theoretical mobilizations of and departures from traditions of critical utopianism. Analyzed together, they explicitly challenge theories of queer antirelationality and implicitly insist — in the face of queer theory's ostensible death — that the future is, and still must be imagined as, queer stuff. In contrast to the recent insistence on queer antirelationality and anticommunal modes of unbelonging, these books insist on the performative and political dimensions of critical futurity. Furthermore, I show how even as the preoccupation with a certain kind of idealism (what Castiglia and Reed call “ideality politics”) is mapped onto the present and future, the pull toward the past in these texts is equally palpable, as a structure of feeling as well as a critical method, appearing in the form of retrospective returns, activist legacies, spaces of memory, aesthetic blueprints, backward failings and feelings. Despite their distinct theoretical interventions, the mobilizations of critical utopianism and idealism in all three books further the conversations about queer historiography and temporality in dynamic and compelling ways.
Nishant Shahani; The Future Is Queer Stuff: Critical Utopianism and Its Discontents. GLQ 1 October 2013; 19 (4): 545–558. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-2279915
Download citation file: