- Introduction:The Biosocial Politics of Queer/Crip Contagions
In this special issue, we chart the limits and possibilities of queer/crip biosocial politics by examining the ways these ideas intersect and commingle with the narratives, practices, and temporalities of contagion. Crip and queer mark out, and indeed, flaunt the failures of normativity. And, in their fierce assertion of the possibility of an outside or more-than-one, crip and queer share a striking range of political and imaginative affinities. Feminist scholars have variously theorized queer and crip as unsettling, strange, twisted, unintelligible, or disruptive (Ahmed 2006; Butler 1993; Kafer 2013; McRuer 2006; Muñoz 2009; Kuppers 2011; Sandahl 2003; Chen 2012; Puar 2012; Johnson 2015; Clare 2001; McRuer and Mollow 2012). Building upon and extending these insights, this issue traces the multiple and unexpected ways queer and crip influence and infect one another.
Drawing on the work of Judith Butler, Alison Kafer notes the twisted circularity of queer. "Queerness," she writes, "is something always to be queered" (2013, 16). It is also something, as Kafer shows us, that can be cripped. In conversation with other feminist scholars of queer and disability theory, such as Carrie Sandahl, Mel Chen, Robert McRuer, and Jasbir Puar, Kafer describes the coming together of queer and crip—or queer/crip—as a provocative coalition: an unstable yet fruitful site of interdisciplinary, relational, and interspecies exposure and exchange. McRuer has issued a resonant call for a "vibrant queer politics," one that incorporates "a vibrant crip politics (and vice versa)" in order to "remake the world" and create novel forms of "crip/queer solidarity" (2012, 1). Yet, as Merri Lisa Johnson notes, despite the fact that crip and queer studies "are hardly strangers to each other these days . . . queer theorists cannot always be counted on to convey crip sensitivities, even when directly asked to do so" (2015, 251–52).
Taking up McRuer's call (and heeding Johnson's warning), we seek to better understand how a queer/crip refusal of closure might provide the grounds for a range of discursive and material forms of contestation and coalition, offering radical alternatives to assimilationist or reformist politics. Thinking along [End Page vii] with Puar, while such affective, theoretical, and political linkages are "not perfectly aligned" and therefore "[do] not always yield immediate alliances," they may nonetheless be "convivial in their mutual resistance to the violent control of populations" (2017, ix). Thus, one of the aims of this special issue is to nurture novel intersectional theoretical assemblages so as to make room for more accessible cross-movement solidarities, political formations that are better able to support and sustain the flourishing of those most impacted by systems of oppression.
The cover image for this special issue gestures toward such a desire for conviviality and coalitional politics. The graphite and watercolor painting was created by Bay Area visual artist Micah Bazant in collaboration with Sins Invalid, a performance group that centers the work of queer and gender nonconforming disabled artists of color. Sins Invalid has been central to the formation of a disability justice politic premised on intersectionality and interdependency, collective struggles for access, and cross-movement solidarities. The cover image centers two disabled people of color who are held, face to face, in almost mirror-like tension. The face on the left has light brown skin that is warm, smooth, and youthful; the face on the right is darker, with deep folds and wrinkles that mark the person's age. Both wear ornate crowns on their heads, one made with organic materials, the other covered in jewels. They are smiling—perhaps at one another—as if in conversation, laughing, close. Their faces appear against a blue background: a night sky interrupted by the glisten of silver and blue stars and raindrops. Two raindrops hang particularly close to the people's lips, as if saliva falling down. Beneath the faces, there is a circle of people. They are gathered and seated, some in wheelchairs, others on chairs. Their bodies are a nexus of multiplicities: fat and thin, black, brown, white, Latinx, Asian, and mixed, mouths and eyes variously open and closed. They are bare chested...