Disturbing Attachments: Genet, Modern Pederasty, and Queer History (Theory Q)
Jean Genet (1910–1986) resonates, perhaps more than any other canonical queer figure from the pre-Stonewall past, with contemporary queer sensibilities attuned to a defiant non-normativity. Not only sexually queer, Genet was also a criminal and a social pariah, a bitter opponent of the police state, and an ally of revolutionary anticolonial movements. In Disturbing Attachments, Kadji Amin challenges the idealization of Genet as a paradigmatic figure within queer studies to illuminate the methodological dilemmas at the heart of queer theory. Pederasty, which was central to Genet's sexuality and to his passionate cross-racial and transnational political activism late in life, is among a series of problematic and outmoded queer attachments that Amin uses to deidealize and historicize queer theory. He brings the genealogy of Genet's imaginaries of attachment to bear on pressing issues within contemporary queer politics and scholarship, including prison abolition, homonationalism, and pinkwashing. Disturbing Attachments productively and provocatively unsettles queer studies by excavating the history of its affective tendencies to reveal and ultimately expand the contexts that inform the use and connotations of the term queer.