CFP: Special Issue of Feminist Formations, ‘Queer/Crip Contagions’

Posted on November 8th, 2016 by Hannah Tweed

CFP: Special Issue of Feminist Formations, ‘Queer/Crip Contagions’
Edited by Kelly Fritsch and Anne McGuire
Full Papers due 1st February 2017

This special issue charts the limits and possibilities of queer/crip biosocial politics by examining the ways these intersect and co-mingle with the narratives, practices, and temporalities of contagion. Feminist scholars have long theorized “queer” and “crip” as unsettling, strange, twisted, or disruptive. Moreover, feminists have demonstrated how a queer/crip refusal of closure invites a range of discursive and embodied forms of contestation and coalition, offering radical alternatives to assimilationist or reformist politics. The coming together of queer and crip is an unstable yet fruitful site of interdisciplinary and multispecies exposure and exchange. Building upon and extending these insights, this special issue will trace the multiple and unexpected ways “queer” and “crip” influence and infect one another. Drawing on the etymology of contagion as “a touching, contact” or “touching closely,” how do queer and crip come into contact? What is absorbed? What is exchanged? And, what is or might yet be produced at this site? We solicit a diverse collection of articles emanating from a range of interdisciplinary fields and areas of study, but that are also united by a shared commitment to queer and crip the discourses and practices of contagion itself.

Bound by neither body nor border, contagion has become an emergent area of interest among scholars working at the intersections of critical race, transnational feminisms, queer theory and disability studies. Indeed, contagion frequently incites medical and moral crisis and panic through its historical, transnational, colonial, and imperial links to racial, sexual, and ability formations and violence. Jasbir Puar argues that the lexicon of contagion and disease “suture” together “etymological and political links” connecting racist/orientalist fears of border penetration and infiltration with cultural anxieties around queer, sick and/or disabled bodies (2007, 52). Mel Chen describes a queer/crip contagion that “de-territorializes,” exhibiting a unique flexibility to move “through and against imperialistic spatializations of ‘here’ and ‘there’” (2012, 167). Neel Ahuja marks contagion through projects of public health intervention and US empire that embed national defense and imperial interests in the racialized, gendered, sexualized, and ableist materializations of bodies (2016, xvi). Scholarship on the ongoing histories and logics of eugenics demonstrates how cultural ideologies of disability-as-threat contaminate and co-mingle with sexually and racially-coded narratives of biological in/security, thus legitimizing a range of neo/colonial and imperial health and hygiene practices in the name of individual, social, and economic development. By tracking contagion through contemporary discourses on viral diseases (i.e., Zika, HIV/AIDS, SARS, West Nile, Avian Flu, H1N1, or the range of diseases and illnesses associated with bioterrorism and biosecurity) and through the “epidemicization” of such phenomena as obesity, autism, smoking, poverty, violent crime, or toxic lead poisoning, we can develop a better sense of the cross-contamination between categories of race, gender, sexuality, and disability. Moreover, we can better understand how these categories have become essential to the organization of modern conceptualizations of human worth/value and to the authorization of an array of paternalistic, clinical, and imperial and colonial interventions.

Contagion most often comes to be associated with danger and undesirability – a racialized, pathological threat to be neutralized, eliminated, or cured. As contagion replicates and spreads through the expanding folds and ever-widening spectrums of illness, threats to our health and to our communities remain elusive and transitory, always eclipsed, always on the future horizon. Yet, contagion moves in indeterminate ways. Working to reorganize and manage both spatial/temporal relations, contagion de-regulates categories of health and disorder, while also and at the same time, anticipates the increased regulation and surveillance of bodies, minds and movements; contagion stimulates temporalities of speed, urgency and emergency, while also producing moments of stillness and suspended animation. Traveling along non-linear, transnational circuits spanning “then” and “now,” “here” and “there,” the queer/crip site of contagion provides a unique vantage for interrogating the violence of global capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and its biosocial economies of human/nonhuman worth and precarity. Unbounded, intimate, and indeterminate, contagion also provides the grounds for provocative encounters and exchange: novel alliances between patients, scientists, politicians, doctors, biotech companies, community groups, and many others, that give rise to new kinds of biosocial relations. Contagion suggests a site of exposure, a vector of change, or a transgressive mixing that does not stay still. Theories of queer/crip contagion ask: which forms of embodiment are incorporated into life and which are put into quarantine or driven out of this vital fold? (Ahuja 2016; Puar 2012; McRuer 2010).

This special issue asks: how are queer/crip contagions – conceived of as unbounded convergences of bodies, minds, and meanings – working to open up new sites of, and for, social and political exchange? How are crip/queer contagions replicating, and spreading in ways that avoid the pitfalls of what Priscilla Wald (2008) has referred to as “outbreak narratives”? In other words, how are queer/crip narratives refusing social, political, medical, and moral containment by pushing back against 21st century tools and techniques aimed at controlling, capturing, arresting, or otherwise limiting the possibilities of and for biosocial politics: risk management, for example, neoliberal demands for flexibility, homo/able nationalism, clinical and state interventions and occupations, racialized violence, and/or ongoing colonial or imperial development projects?

This issue will build upon, enliven, and complicate emergent scholarship at the nexus of queer and crip. The editors encourage the submission of transnational feminist and intersectional work that engages queer/crip in relation to ethnicity, race, gender, disability, sexuality, age, citizenship, class and other socially produced categories of difference.

We welcome submissions related to, but not limited to the following questions: 

  • How are crip and queer theory shaped by the discourses and practices of contagion? What new kinds of epistemological and political frameworks emerge out of cross-contaminations between “queer” and “crip”?
  • What social and political meanings underpin the issue’s key terms ‘queer’, ‘crip’ and ‘contagion’? How are these categories produced by and responsive to ongoing histories of racism/ableism/heteronormativity/sexism?
  • How are transnational feminist perspectives penetrating queer/crip knowledge production? What new kinds of knowledge might yet be produced by attending to transnational issues and perspectives?
  • How do the lived experiences of queerness, disability, and chronic illness change across boundaries of race, ethnicity, class, and gender?
  • How do queer and crip challenge and reconfigure received understandings of kinship relations and imaginaries?
  • What are the limits and possibilities of thinking crip/queer as fluid, graded spectrums anchored by such binaries as homo/hetero, sickness/health, normal/abnormal?
  • How do changing forms of securitization impact queer/crip contagions? How do the discourses of contagion figure crip/queer bodies as threats to national security?
  • How does contagion influence disabled/queer/trans/race mobility across borders? What is the relationship between discourses of contagion and state or national practices of containment such as arrest/detention/delay?
  • How do increases in biometrics, biosecurity, and bioterrorism impact queer/crip contestations and coalitions?
  • What is the temporality of the contagion? How does contagion mediate our movements? Impact chronicity?
  • How are epidemics produced? What does and does not get framed as an epidemic? As non-contagious social “problems” like autism and obesity get narrated in terms of spreading epidemics, what work is and is not accomplished via contagion as metaphor?
  • What does social and moral panic over widespread/spreading diseases, disabilities and illnesses caused by viruses (e.g., Zika) or contaminants (e.g., lead, mercury, exposure to plasticizers, dirty water) reveal about cultural understandings of disability? How might a queer/crip reading of such events enrich/complicate our understandings of social advocacy (e.g., environmental activism, racial justice or reproductive rights)?
  • What is the relation between queer/crip contagions and immunization?
  • What might a queer/crip critique of epidemic/pandemic preparedness (e.g., evacuation plans, triage policies, etc.) look like?
  • How might a queer/crip framework of contagion critique or engage the exportation of health/hygiene techniques from the global north to global south? How would a queer/crip analysis of contagion both complicate and enrich analyses of global healthcare imbalances and political debates about unequal access to treatments/immunizations/cures in the Global South?
  • How do queer/crip contagions contest or mark the failure of imperialist, colonialist, and/or capitalist practices of biosecurity, biometrics, or governance?
  • As we track and follow the patterns/trajectory of contagions, where will it take us? What new forms of inter/transdisciplinary alliances might open up?

And/or that engage the following key topics:Virality; Immunity; Epidemics; Public health; Crip/queer time, temporalities, futures, futurities; Chronicity, chronic conditions; Capitalism, neoliberalism, austerity, precarity; Bioeconomies, biocapitalism, economization or financialization of life; Toxicity; Hybridity; Trans-ability; Intra-species relations; Health, hygiene, healthism;  Nature/Culture;  Disability, illness, impairment, madness, Deafness, neurodiverity; Making kin;  Ecologies, environments; Affect; Cripistemologies; Trauma, memory;  Nation, colonialism, imperialism; Biosecurity and racialization/pathologization; Bioterrorism

Guest Editors:

  • Kelly Fritsch, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow, Women & Gender Studies Institute and Technoscience Research Unit, University of Toronto kelly.fritsch@utoronto.ca
  • Anne McGuire, Assistant Professor, Equity Studies Program, University of Toronto anne.mcguire@utoronto.ca

Submission Process: Full papers (between 8,000- 11,000 words including references) should be sent by 1st February 2017 to Kelly Fritsch (kelly.fritsch@utoronto.ca)   and Anne McGuire (anne.mcguire@utoronto.ca). Please include “Queer/Crip Contagions Submission” in the subject line of your submission.

Author(s) should include three files as attachments:

1. Cover page with identifying information including name, title, institutional affiliation, address, phone numbers, and email;
2. Abstract and keywords;
3. Complete manuscript, with all identifying information removed. Files must be in Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf).

All submissions must follow the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) author-date system with parenthetical citations. All text, including quotations, must be double-spaced.Following the deadline, guest editors will review the manuscripts and determine those to be sent for full anonymous review.

Feminist Formations style guide is available at: https://feministformations.org/sites/default/files/FeministFormationsStyleGuide2.pdf.

Please contact either of the co-editors with questions or concerns about the submission process.

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