- Queer Lovers and Hateful Others: Regenerating Violent Times and Places by Jin Haritaworn
What are the everyday scripts animating events, such as so-called hate crimes and gentrification, that seem like ruptures in everyday life? In Queer Lovers and Hateful Others: Regenerating Violent Times and Places, Jin Haritaworn asks and answers this question, deftly naming and tracking a series of interrelated discourses that accompany the production of such events in Berlin, always with an eye toward how those same discourses move transnationally even when they appear intensely local. Drawing from queer of color kitchen table narratives that challenge racist and colonial logics of gayness and queerness, Haritaworn conducts an “ethnography of texts” (31), chasing what they call “queer lovers and hateful Others”—queers who become lovely (and therefore desirable as citizens and worthy of protection) for the first time only in contrast to racialized, demonized, and pathologized Others—through a wide variety of settings. Haritaworn’s concept of queer regeneration, to which the title of the book refers, concretizes the script of queer lovers and hateful Others in space; taking as their main example the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin, Haritaworn elaborates how the revitalization of the inner city is “for formerly degenerate subjects as much as for formerly degenerate spaces within which they come to life” (81). Through a “recovery” of space, Haritaworn argues, queer subjects pave the way for the progressive whitening of their newly claimed neighborhoods and subsequently emerge as subjects worthy of state protection. Of course, such queer regenerations require the erasure or vilification of who was there before, especially those who exist at the intersection of queerness and racialized, demonized populations. Thus, the queer lover and hateful Other are born.
It comes as no surprise that the well-worn binary script of white gays and homophobic people of color emerges, in this particular geopolitical moment, as a battle between supposedly civilized Western queers and backwards homophobic Muslims and migrants. Plenty of scholarly attention, of course, has been given to the ways that queerness gets mobilized toward the “war on terror” as [End Page 186] a result. Queer Lovers and Hateful Others breathes new life and nuance into these discussions, challenging and complicating some of the most fundamental assumptions of scholarship on queerness, race, affect, ability, temporality, and the transnational in the process. In the first chapter, “Setting the Scene,” Haritaworn analyzes the backdrop against which moral panics surrounding hateful Others play out. By radically contextualizing Kreuzberg, as the racialized inner city that serves as “fertile ground for queer regeneration” (31) they complicate theories of queer gentrification that reduce it to an issue of homonormativity and neoliberalism.
Rather, Haritaworn suggests, not all queers gentrify equally, because some are the poor racialized bodies that gentrifying forces seek to expel while others—even those that might be considered transgressive—become desirable by participating in that expulsion. The ability of certain queers to revitalize along with degenerate spaces and subsequently perform themselves as valuable while others remain expendable (50), then, demands an analysis of racism and colonialism. The need for such analyses becomes especially apparent in the second chapter, “Love.” Here, Haritaworn traces the affects that emerge from public instances of queer kissing, paying particular attention to the homonormative affect of love in relationship to what they call the transnormative affect of injury, as well as where such affects, in Sara Ahmed’s terms, stick. Public performances of intimacy and injury, they argue, coagulate into a discourse that claims queer intimacy as in danger and therefore in need of protection “precisely because it is under attack from hateful Others who form the constitutive outside of the newly gay-friendly community” (85). Perhaps controversially, Haritaworn emphasizes some trans subjects who, despite often being excluded from homonormative romance, gain currency as an exemplary victim against whom hateful Others can be constructed.
Of course, the affective associations of love, victimhood, and hate stick differently to different bodies. In the third chapter, Haritaworn employs an abolitionist lens to examine how understandings of the hate crime travel...