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Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Trans Necropolitics: A Transnational Reflection on Violence, Death, and the Trans of Color Afterlife

By C. Riley Snorton and Jin Haritaworn, 2013

In this jointly autored article, C. Riley Snorton and Jin Haritaworn bring a transnational perspective to bear on systemic forms of often deadly violence experienced by trans people of color. They suggest that postcolonial theorist Achille Mbembe’s concept of “necropolitics,” which describes a form of power that some fraction of a population for death even while it deems other fractions suitable for life enhancing investment, accurately reflects the circumstances of trans of color existence. They assert that value extracted from the deaths of trans people of color vitalizes projects as diverse as inner-city gentrification, anti-immigrant and anti-muslim moral panics. homonationalism, and white transnormative community formation. Snorton, assistant professor of Communications Studies at Northwestern University, first offers an account of the 1995 death of Tyra Hunter, an African-American trans woman from Washington D.C., and of the many uses to which her death subsequently has been put. Sociologist Jin Haritaworn, assistant Environment at York University, then traces how trans of color bodies such as Hunters have circulated in contemporary Berlin. In general, Haritaworn claims, the lives of trans people of color in the global North and West arc celebrated, and their deaths memorialized, in ways that serve the white citizenry and mask necropolitical violence waged against gender variant people from the global South and East.

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