This article considers the contexts and processes of forensic identification in 2004
post-tsunami Thailand as examples of identity politics. The presence of international
forensic teams as carriers of diverse technical expertise overlapped with
bureaucratic procedures put in place by the Thai government. The negotiation of
unified forensic protocols and the production of estimates of identified nationals
straddle biopolitics and thanatocracy. The immense identification task testified on
the one hand to an effort to bring individual bodies back to mourning families and
national soils, and on the other hand to determining collective ethnic and national
bodies, making sense out of an inexorable and disordered dissolution of corporeal as
well as political boundaries. Individual and national identities were the subject of
competing efforts to bring order to,the chaos, reaffirming the cogency of the body
politic by mapping national boundaries abroad. The overwhelming forensic effort
required by the exceptional circumstances also brought forward the socio-economic and
ethnic disparities of the victims, whose post-mortem treatment and identification
traced an indelible divide between us and them.
James Baldwin and the "Closeted-ness" of American
This article reads the work of James Baldwin in dialogue with that of Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick. Taking its cue from Baldwin’s claim that Americans “live […] with something in
[their] closet” that they “pretend […] is not there,” it explores his depiction of a
United States characterized by the “closeted-ness” of its racial discourse. In doing so,
the article draws on Sedgwick’s work concerning how the containment of discourses
pertaining to sexuality hinges on the closeting of non-heteronormative sexual practices.
Reconceptualizing Sedgwick’s ideas in the context of a black, queer writer like Baldwin,
however, problematizes her own insistence on the “historical gay specificity” of the
epistemology she traces. To this end, this article does not simply posit a racial
counterpart to the homosexual closet. Rather, reflecting Baldwin’s insistence that “the
sexual question and the racial question have always been entwined,” I highlight here the
interpretive possibilities opened up by intersectional analyses that view race, sexuality,
and national identity as coextensive, reciprocal epistemologies.
Searching for Black Queer Domesticity at Chez Baldwin
Magdalena J. Zaborowska
This essay argues for the importance of James Baldwin’s last house, located in St. Paul-de-Vence in the south of France, to his late works written during the productive period of 1971–87: No Name in the Street (1972), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), The Devil Finds Work (1976), Just Above My Head (1979), The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), and the unpublished play The Welcome Table (1987). That period ushered in a new Baldwin, more complex and mature as an author, who became disillusioned while growing older as a black queer American who had no choice but to live abroad to get his work done and to feel safe. Having established his most enduring household at “Chez Baldwin,” as the property was known locally, the writer engaged in literary genre experimentation and challenged normative binaries of race, gender, and sexuality with his conceptions of spatially contingent national identity. The late Baldwin created unprecedented models of black queer domesticity and humanism that, having been excluded from U.S. cultural narratives until recently, offer novel ways to reconceptualize what it means to be an American intellectual in the twenty-first-century world.