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Critique Essay Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction Social Sciences

Killing Abstractions: Indigenous Women and Black Trans Girls Challenging Media Necropower in White Settler States

By Lena Carla Palacios, 2016

Focusing on a politics of refusal that critiques a liberal politics of recognition voiced by Indigenous feminist and Black race-radical trans women helps to not only identify but also create multiple strategies that dismantle media necropower and the racialized gendered violence that it mobilizes and sustains. To this end, Lena Carla Palacios explores a number of cases that demonstrate how activists mobilize outlaw vernacular discourses and media justice strategies in response to legal constructions and mainstream news portrayals of interpersonal, sexual, and state violence. She asks, in the face of such killing abstractions, what positions are actually available from which to critique and contest these necropolitical logics. This article engages with two movements that subvert human rights- and civil rights-based calls that advocate for a state-led missing and murdered Indigenous women’s inquiry in Canada and for the expansion of federal hate-crime protection to include trans people in the United States. Such a transnational critical ethnic studies intervention upholds the tensions and refuses to collapse the radical and revolutionary political traditions and approaches of Indigenous movements for sovereignty and Black race-radical abolitionist traditions. The activists whose discourses Palacios highlights are mobilizing against the multiple ways that racialized and gendered Others are rendered socially dead by carceral violence and settler colonialism.

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