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Other titles in the Perverse Modernities series:

Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Perverse Modernities)

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Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Perverse Modernities) Cover

ISBN13: 9780822352723
ISBN10: 0822352729
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Animacies, Mel Y. Chen draws on recent debates about sexuality, race, and affect to examine how matter that is considered insensate, immobile, or deathly animates cultural lives. Toward that end, Chen investigates the blurry division between the living and the dead, or that which is beyond the human or animal. Within the field of linguistics, animacy has been described variously as a quality of agency, awareness, mobility, sentience, or liveness. Chen turns to cognitive linguistics to stress how language habitually differentiates the animate and the inanimate. Expanding this construct, Chen argues that animacy undergirds much that is pressing and indeed volatile in contemporary culture, from animal rights debates to biosecurity concerns.

Chen's book is the first to bring the concept of animacy together with queer of color scholarship, critical animal studies, and disability theory. Through analyses of dehumanizing insults, the meanings of queerness, animal protagonists in recent Asian/American art and film, the lead in toys panic in 2007, and the social lives of environmental illness, Animacies illuminates a hierarchical politics infused by race, sexuality, and ability. In this groundbreaking book, Chen rethinks the criteria governing agency and receptivity, health and toxicity, productivity and stillness—and demonstrates how attention to the affective charge of matter challenges commonsense orderings of the world.

Synopsis:

Mel Y. Chen draws on studies of sexuality, race, and affect to consider how matter that is considered insensate, immobile, deathly, or otherwise "wrong," animates cultural life in important ways.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Max, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Max)
Alright, this is an academic book, which will not be everyone's cup of tea. But if you slog through the jargon, this is a brilliant book that weaves together disability theory, queer theory, linguistics and critical race theory to creatively challenge us to rethink our basic assumptions. Chen is a linguist who uses linguistics to ask the question of how we create an animacy hierarchy (like human- animal- vegetable- mineral, for example), and how culturally specific that is. So, for example, the sentence "The hikers that rocks crush" sounds strange in English because of the ways that we understand rocks to be fairly low on the animacy scale. Chen uses this insight to look at how we value particular lives as worth living (what does it mean, for example, to call someone in a coma a vegetable?) and the boundaries between various categories on the animacy scale, including the boundary between human and non-human animals. My favorite chapter is about lead, where Chen discusses how the lead in toys from the panic in 2007 redirected attention away from the domestic problem of lead in older buildings (mainly affecting poor children of color in the U.S.), and away from industrial pollutants in China and how they affect locals in China, to the problem of affluent white children and lead in toys. The final chapter, which touches on Chen's battles with chemical sensitivities to discuss the boundaries of the body is also fantastic. This is a classic queer theory book, in that it shifts your perspective and gives you new ways to think about the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Max, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Max)
Alright, this is an academic book, which will not be everyone's cup of tea. But if you slog through the jargon, this is a brilliant book that weaves together disability theory, queer theory, linguistics and critical race theory to creatively challenge us to rethink our basic assumptions. Chen is a linguist who uses linguistics to ask the question of how we create an animacy hierarchy (like human- animal- vegetable- mineral, for example), and how culturally specific that is. So, for example, the sentence "The hikers that rocks crush" sounds strange in English because of the ways that we understand rocks to be fairly low on the animacy scale. Chen uses this insight to look at how we value particular lives as worth living (what does it mean, for example, to call someone in a coma a vegetable?) and the boundaries between various categories on the animacy scale, including the boundary between human and non-human animals. My favorite chapter is about lead, where Chen discusses how the lead in toys from the panic in 2007 redirected attention away from the domestic problem of lead in older buildings (mainly affecting poor children of color in the U.S.), and away from industrial pollutants in China and how they affect locals in China, to the problem of affluent white children and lead in toys. The final chapter, which touches on Chen's battles with chemical sensitivities to discuss the boundaries of the body is also fantastic. This is a classic queer theory book, in that it shifts your perspective and gives you new ways to think about the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780822352723
Author:
Chen, Mel Y.
Publisher:
Duke University Press
Author:
Chen, Mel
Subject:
Feminism & Feminist Theory
Subject:
Philosophy : General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe
Publication Date:
20120731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
20 illustrations
Pages:
312

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Related Subjects

Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » General
History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » General
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Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Perverse Modernities) New Trade Paper
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Product details 312 pages Duke University Press - English 9780822352723 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Mel Y. Chen draws on studies of sexuality, race, and affect to consider how matter that is considered insensate, immobile, deathly, or otherwise "wrong," animates cultural life in important ways.
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