Touching Wounds: On the Fugitivity of Stigma

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What if our politics are shaped by the texture of wounds rather than the identity of selves? What possible future will have been opened up by posing that very question? I take up Eve Sedgwick’s invitation to begin with stigma “as a near-inexhaustible source of transformational energy” for a transformative queer politics and elaborate Sedgwick’s attention to spoiled identity through Hortense Spiller’s conceptualization of the flesh. The flesh substantiates the grounds for a materialist ontology that begins with stigma, the materiality of the wound, to constitute a transformative politics toward a fugitive elsewhere. Reading Sedgwick and Spillers together opens up a transformative ontological register that spans the material, affective, and fugitive. I argue that the hieroglyphics of the flesh give us knowledge of ourselves and others and the world(s) we have lived through but also invite us to transform who and what we are, how we relate, and what a world might look like where our being is not constituted by fugitive survival. I suggest that such hieroglyphics can be engaged by touching wounds understood as a haptic reading of textures impressed on our embodied being while paying attention to the lines of flight that erupt from the wound.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-55
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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