Published in 2004, Aberrations in Black serves as a foundational text for the now prominent analytical frame of queer of color critique. Throughout the text, Ferguson reiterates the need for a queer of color critique to question how the intersections of gender, class, and sexuality coalesce with racial and national formations under the current historical context of capitalist production.
What I found most pressing in this text was Ferguson’s concluding call for the interdiscipline of American Studies, a call that I believe also speaks to the interdisciplinary field of Women’s Studies. Specifically asking for a “postnationalist” American Studies, Ferguson demands that interdisciplinary academic inquiry must study historical subjects through an analytical lens that neither neglects nor discards racialized and classed features of gender and sexuality. In doing so, a queer of color critique practices an earnest engagement in the intersections of identity and societal relations as well as an ardent disruption of normativity. Both of these critical commitments must be challenged within an examination of nationalism and political economy.
My own thinking has begun to purposefully consider the pivotal role that political economy plays. Now that I am on the other side of my comprehensive exams, I find myself thinking more intently about the functions of capital and nation-states. In one sense, I see my work developing within a line of thought that acknowledges how US citizenship operates as a technology of race in that it regulates and assigns heteronormativity to certain racial groups while also producing discourses that pathologize othered/nonheteronormative racial groups. For my second year paper, I hope to think through the ways the mixed-race body factors into the state’s interest in a diverse and thus progressive society. What does diverse and progressive mean in this context? How might images of mixed-race American citizens promote notions of post-racism in particular and post-raciality in general? How might these same images perpetuate notions of heteronormativity? In another sense, I recognize that my intellectual growth may need to engage in a closer reading of Marxist thought. Ferguson outlines Marx’s theories on property ownership, production and commodity, and bourgeois ideology in order to ultimately critique marxism’s universalization of heteropatriarchy and its subsequent neglect of racial, gender, and sexual particularities. If I remain interested in the effects neoliberal multiculturalism has on mixed-race embodiment, Marxism may be a school of thought I need to become more familiar with.