Unruly Visions

The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora

Unruly Visions

Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe

More about this series

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 72 illustrations, incl. 16pp c Published: November 2018

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Asian Studies > South Asia, Gender and Sexuality > Queer Theory

In Unruly Visions Gayatri Gopinath brings queer studies to bear on investigations of diaspora and visuality, tracing the interrelation of affect, archive, region, and aesthetics through an examination of a wide range of contemporary queer visual culture. Spanning film, fine art, poetry, and photography, these cultural forms—which Gopinath conceptualizes as aesthetic practices of queer diaspora—reveal the intimacies of seemingly disparate histories of (post)colonial dwelling and displacement and are a product of diasporic trajectories. Countering standard formulations of diaspora that inevitably foreground the nation-state, as well as familiar formulations of queerness that ignore regional gender and sexual formations, she stages unexpected encounters between works by South Asian, Middle Eastern, African, Australian, and Latinx artists such as Tracey Moffatt, Akram Zaatari, and Allan deSouza. Gopinath shows how their art functions as regional queer archives that express alternative understandings of time, space, and relationality. The queer optics produced by these visual practices creates South-to-South, region-to-region, and diaspora-to-region cartographies that profoundly challenge disciplinary and area studies rubrics. Gopinath thereby provides new critical perspectives on settler colonialism, empire, military occupation, racialization, and diasporic dislocation as they indelibly mark both bodies and landscapes.


"Unruly Visions is a significant addition to the groundbreaking Perverse Modernities series published by Duke University Press and edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe. . . . This book is highly recommended for academic libraries, especially those that serve institutions with heavy emphasis on research in visual studies, contemporary art history, postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, and diaspora studies." — Andrew Wang, ARLIS/NA Reviews

"Unruly Visions demonstrates how, in curating and (re)positioning juxtaposed archives, regions and temporalities, new affective linkages are formed. Sitting at the intersection of queer, affect and area studies, this book peers backwards into queer regional archives with unruly, resistant and keen eyes that look to new modes of curating, writing and scholarship that all see(k) to confound conventional conceptions of local/global and metropolis/diaspora divisions." — Polly Hember, LSE Review of Books

"Unruly Visions is a formidable, powerful, and necessary study of queer diasporas that a wide range of readers, from the general public to diaspora studies scholars, will at once find illuminating and profound." — Shabnam Rathee and Rahul K. Gairola, South Asian Review

"Gopinath’s arguments are complicated but elegant and powerful. . . . I deeply recommend this well-written and thought-provoking book. We can compellingly travel through the various queer artworks following Gopinath’s guide to destruct contemporary modern normativities, which is surely a much-needed project. Researchers of queer subjects and theory, and humanities scholars and social scientists working on issues of immigration and globalization, as well as laypersons interested in queer diaspora and queer art will enjoy this book. In the end, I found myself inspired by Gopinath to queer everything constantly, including queerness itself." — Weejun Park, Antipode

"Gayatri Gopinath’s highly anticipated follow-up to her seminal and pathbreaking book Impossible Desires is a series of four powerful and elegantly written case studies, two of which are updates of previously published essays. She continues her deft exploration of artistic practices, sexuality, and transnational South Asia that began in Impossible Desires, providing links to works examining other diasporas and regions as well as works that may not deal with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) issues." — Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

"Such is the nuanced approach that Gopinath has taken in Unruly Visions that has mobilized conceptual categories such as region, aesthetics and archives, which makes this book a must read. It’s interesting that she mentions that this book is a curation of archives, but here 'curate,' which stems from the Latin root meaning 'to care for,' is not used in the pejorative sense but 'to heal.' It’s this healing of all the disappeared or undiscovered queer articulations in the popular, or, even, the culture of the masses that Gopinath successfully articulates." — Saurabh Sharma, Feminism in India

"Gopinath’s theorization of the region offers transgender studies a new analytic to meet the challenge of undoing its US exceptionalism. . . . [Her] reading of regions offers a method to draw connections between multiple regions in the way they disrupt and get folded within nation-states." — Sayan Bhattacharya, TSQ

"Gopinath’s valiant exercise in bringing queer studies to bear on diaspora studies via aesthetic practices certainly reveals the limitations particularly present in the scope of area studies. . . . Ultimately, Gopinath’s feat in this book is to bring to the forefront a capacious methodology in which excavating the personal provides a rich source of knowledge to interrogate nationalistic, patriarchal, and colonial narratives of cultural and sexual identities." — Tanvi Rajvanshi, Synoptique

"[Unruly Visions] is a body of work that trains its sights on the quotidian and the inconsequential to arrive at alternative histories and affiliations, speaks to the productive possibilities of dwelling in a state of suspension and disorientation, and envisions new worlds that open up once we reject fantasies of return to lost origins or homelands. ...  An important intervention in the fields of queer studies, affect studies, and most importantly, area studies." — Sohel Sarkar, AC Review of Boks

"Unruly Visions provides unique insight into the ways in which aesthetics of queerness provide potentially alternative lenses through which to view the concepts of region and area." — Hafsa Arain, Asian Journal of Social Science

"Centering contemporary art of the queer diaspora, Unruly Visions develops a queer optic across regions and across archives in a poignantly affective register, as she offers a blueprint for what aesthetic analysis located within and across diasporas might look and feel like. Crucially, this book proposes a radical relationality, embracing José Muñoz’s utopian horizon of queer possibility." — Natasha Bissonauth, Women & Performance

“…Unruly Visions provides unique insight into the ways in which aesthetics of queerness provide potentially alternative lenses through which to view the concepts of region and area…. [A] helpful tool in seeing region through the ‘disjunctured’ lens of queerness, which provides an important foundation in connecting previously separated fields, such as indigenous studies and diaspora studies.” — Hafsa Arain, Asian Ethnology

“With the author’s insistence on questioning some of the most widely held and least criticised notions of queer belonging, this text becomes invaluable in considering alternative, deviant futures in our midst. Unruly Visions is to be held as a necessary engagement for those scholars interested in advocating relational and relevant queer theory that seeks out the potential of unexpected and strange affiliations and intimacies against the odds.” — Lars Olav Aaberg, Feminist Review

“As an interventionist text that is…invested in aesthetic practice as well as archival rehabilitation, Gopinath’s weaving of visual analysis, cultural critique, and diasporic theory is richly sustained throughout…. Unruly Visions provides a model for how we might produce queer reframings of diverse aesthetic objects that call for reanimation from existing archives. More importantly, Unruly Visions suggests that such a reframing is in fact necessary if we are to avoid the pitfalls of hetero-patriarchy, with all its subduing and constraining political investments, in favour of enacting a queer frame that instead exposes these normative investments to be fugitive, unstable, and worthy of forceful disarticulation.” — Tulasi Johnson, Continuum

“A tremendous advance over the current scholarship analyzing visuality, affect, and South-to-South queer diasporic artistic expression, Unruly Visions charts new cartographies of diasporic connections that provide a fresh orientation to our understanding of settler colonialism, empire, and racialization. Gayatri Gopinath’s book is a singular achievement that will have a profound impact within queer studies, indigenous and diaspora studies, visual studies, and aesthetics.” — Nayan Shah, author of Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality, and the Law in the North American West

“A wonderfully detailed examination of queer diasporic films and visual art projects, this book explores how critical regionalism can interrupt conventional conceptions of local/global and metropolis/diaspora distinctions. Gayatri Gopinath's concept of a 'queer cartographic imaginary' resists neat categories and generalizations, offering an eclectic range of case studies—queer diaspora from Kerala and the Middle East, Latinx and U.S. cultures of immigration, and indigeneity.” — Ann Cvetkovich, author of Depression: A Public Feeling


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Gayatri Gopinath is Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Archive, Region, Affect, Aesthetics  1
1. Queer Regions: Imagining Kerala from the Diaspora  19
2. Queer Disorientations, States of Suspension  59
3. Diaspora, Indigeneity, Queer Critique  87
4. Archive, Affect, and the Everyday  125
Epilogue. Crossed Eyes: Toward a Queer-Sighted Vision  169
Notes  177
Bibliography  213
Index  217
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0035-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0028-0
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