- Editorial Introduction
This issue of Feminist Formations represents the labor of many people, including Zahid R. Chaudhary, the guest editor of our special dossier on Robyn Wiegman’s Object Lessons, which I will discuss momentarily. But first, I want to express my deep gratitude to two people with whom I have worked and learned, day in and day out, since bringing the journal to the University of Arizona two years ago: Erin Durban-Albrecht and Londie Martin. During these first two years, Erin served as our managing editor, and Londie as our editorial assistant. Two years may not sound like a long time, but these particular years were filled with the steepest learning curves, highest expectations, and, no doubt, affective “political desires,” to use Wiegman’s term. Erin and Londie were wonderful collaborators. Their wit, feminist commitment, and grace under the inevitable timeline pressures of journal production helped push Feminist Formations toward new, exciting directions. They now go on to exciting new stages of their careers: Erin will finish writing her dissertation with the support of an AAUW fellowship, and Londie has taken a job as assistant professor in the School of Information Resources and Library Sciences at the University of Arizona (UA). While I will miss working with them, I am thrilled to welcome Dylan “Rocket” McCarthy Blackston as our new managing editor and Stephanie Murphy as our editorial assistant. Both Rocket and Stephanie are doctoral students in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies here at the UA.
I also want to thank Erin for suggesting that we feature Favianna Rodriguez’s art on our cover, and TC Tolbert’s poetry in the Poesía section. Rodriguez is a self-described “artist, agitator, and techie working for social change.” Her colorful, edgy political art has become a staple of (im)migrant rights activism in particular, and anti-racist, anti-capitalist feminism in general. Her bold 2012 reproductive rights poster (a collaboration of artist, Gan Golan) altogether sidesteps familiar slogans and instead proclaims: “I’m a Slut. I Vote! So does everyone I sleep with. And you’re about to get more fucked than I am. Keep ur government off my pussy.” And her popular “Migration Is Beautiful” (2013) stickers, posters, and T-shirts feature monarch butterflies as a symbol of “our right to move” (qtd. in Leal 2013). The daughter of Peruvian immigrants, Rodriguez is based in Oakland, California, where she is involved in a number of activist/artist projects, including the immigrant rights organization CultureStrike, and ongoing collaborations with artist-activists Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza of Dignidad Rebelde. In featuring Rodriguez’s art on our cover, we wanted to choose a piece that had circulated less widely than her political posters, but [End Page vii] that contained all of the transgressive fire we have come to expect from her. We selected her monotype “Spellbound III” (2010).
Our featured poet is TC Tolbert, coeditor of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (2013) and assistant director of Casa Libre, a nonprofit writer’s community center and art space in Tucson. Of Tolbert’s chapbook, territories of folding (2011), Dean Spade writes:
TC Tolbert’s reimagining and retooling of language is so evocative and suggestive, skirting towards the edges of possibility, that I can almost feel neural pathways growing inside my brain as I read and re-read the text and interact with the book’s design. I wish I could give this book as a gift to everyone I know who is dedicated to resisting narrowness and confinement—engaging with this work builds and requires a spaciousness, fluidity, and unpredictable complexity that I think many of us are trying to cultivate inside ourselves and manifest in the world.1
The five pieces that we selected to publish in this issue of Feminist Formations exemplify the “reimaging and retooling of language” named by Spade. Taken from Tolbert’s unpublished poetry manuscript The Littlest Death, these works capture the sheer repetitiveness and overwhelming saturation of epistemological, ontological, and physical violence toward trans* people. While death or the threat of death is everywhere in these poems, Tolbert’s language, imagery, and resilience are alive...