“Queer Necropolitics”

I definitely want to share about the queer politics of death making and creating death, embodied particularly by the homo sacer (Agamben 2004). The homo sacer, according to Roman law: is someone who is banned/exiled and may be killed by anyone, but their death does not count as a religious sacrifice and therefore does not meet the criteria for proper burial or mourning. For many contemporary scholars have named life in terms of “those whose life matters”, “those whose life is precious”, and “those whose life is precarious.” In almost exact terms, Butler describes well the political connectedness, and thus militaristic, between life and death, distinguishing between those who are allowed to live and those who are let to die. Citing the Advocate,

At press time, 21 transgender women have been murdered this year alone, most of them women of color — with one additional victim whose gender identity has been disputed in press reports and among family members and activists. That exceeds the number of transgender women killed in the U.S. in all of 2014, though neither of these totals account for individuals whose deaths were not reported or investigated, nor for victims who were misgendered or not regarded as trans women in death.

Transwomyn – specifically Black transwoymn – are highly susceptible to living in a perpetual condition of vulnerability (housing and workplace discrimination, unsupportive family and community members, education deficit, low access to physical and mental healthcare, etc.). We know this! This is not news. Similar to knowing the increasing rate of new HIV cases among Black men, queer or otherwise in this country and Black men subsequently dying from an AIDS related illness – we know this too. We know of the US military drone strikes and incalculable weapons and bioagents created for the extermination of Black and Brown bodies not only in the Middle East, but right here in the United States. And yet, we do not feel complicit in this violence.

We mourn/grieve/pray for some but not all. We question the responsibility of the death makers in times of outstanding catastrophe, such as in Paris – but in contrast reluctantly in Beruit.

In her essay, Killing me softly with your rightsShakhsari concludes observing the transgender and transexual refugee, and while her focus is upon Iran, contemporary discussion on the placement of Syrian refugees in the “Global North” considers the opportunity and livelihood for queer and/or genderqueer individuals. The juxtaposition, Shakhsari is describing in her title sets the US as a home for gay rights against a backdrop of an oppressive Muslim theatre. In this dichotomy, the US has created supposed “freedom” for LGBT people amidst death and violence occurring elsewhere. The US does not have a problem with LGBT people, it proclaims!, but does the backward Middle East. If this makes sense, the idea that the US reifies their nationalist state, equipping gays and lesbians in the US with a spirit of queer pride (nationalism) and a second spirit of dissent toward refugees, despite the lack of freedoms these marginalized groups have themselves. In other words, by creating a strict, religiously fundamental anti-LGBT Middle East, the US has found backing and support from its most marginalized group.


Leave a Reply