Since the inception of queer theory, there has been an ongoing and perhaps constitutive resistance to its squarely confronting the manner in which Black people are placed in what Saidiya Hartman (Hartman and Wilderson 2003: 185) has called “the position of the unthought.” This blind spot includes, but is not limited to, the manner in which queer theory has often failed to “include” blackness (Reid-Pharr 2001: chap. 5), if by inclusion we mean the additive approach through which, for instance, black and brown stripes were recently added to the redesigned rainbow flag (Campbell 2019: 82–87). Even in inclusionary or additive gestures, race often serves either as an analogy to sexuality or as a past historical social struggle (aka. “the civil rights movement”) upon which the LGBT movement now builds (Johnson and Henderson 2005: 4–5). As recently as 2005, Jack Halberstam (2005: 220) could remark...
Upheavals in Black Thought: On Critical Negativity
Tavia Nyong'o is chair and William Lampson professor of theater and performance studies, professor of American studies, and professor of African American studies at Yale University. Nyong'o's first book, The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (2009), won the Errol Hill award for the best book in black theater and performance studies. His second book, Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life (2018), won the Barnard Hewitt award for best book in theater and performance studies. He is currently embarking on a study of critical negativity in the twenty-first-century black queer and trans* cultural criticism. In 2019, he curated “Dark as the Door to a Dream” at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Tavia Nyong'o; Upheavals in Black Thought: On Critical Negativity. GLQ 1 June 2021; 27 (3): 473–483. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-8994154
Download citation file: