In the last year of his brilliant career, José Esteban Muñoz flirted with “the wild” and considered the possibility that this term, even with its blighted colonial etymology, might be one of the building blocks of a new critical vocabulary for thinking race, sexuality, and the undercommons together. Drawn to Wu Tsang’s 2011 film, Wildness, and in dialogue with Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter and its “political ecology of things,” Muñoz extended his thinking on death, loss, and utopia from Cruising Utopia and began an investigation into a postcolonial rendering of the wild. And Muñoz’s interest in the disorderly histories of wildness placed him in conversation with an eclectic array of theoretical currents from new materialism to object-oriented ontology, from animal studies to new animism, from diasporic anthropology to new postidentity theories of self and other. Muñoz was also in a deep conversation with Tavia Nyong’o and myself about the potential of queer wildness, and like Nyong’o and me, he glimpsed potential in a terminology that has been represented as exhausted by its imperial function. This essay thinks with the traces that Muñoz left behind of a project on queer wildness.
Jack Halberstam; Wildness, Loss, Death. Social Text 1 December 2014; 32 (4 (121)): 137–148. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-2820520
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