After the Party
A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life
36 halftones, 8 color
After the Party tells the stories of minoritarian artists who mobilize performance to produce freedom and sustain life in the face of subordination, exploitation, and annihilation. Through the exemplary work of Nina Simone, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Danh Vō, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Eiko, and Tseng Kwong Chi, and with additional appearances by Nao Bustamante, Audre Lorde, Martin Wong, Assata Shakur, and Nona Faustine, After the Party considers performance as it is produced within and against overlapping histories of US colonialism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy. Building upon the thought of José Esteban Muñoz alongside prominent scholarship in queer of color critique, black studies, and Marxist aesthetic criticism, Joshua Chambers-Letson maps a portrait of performance’s capacity to produce what he calls a communism of incommensurability, a practice of being together in difference.
Describing performance as a rehearsal for new ways of living together, After the Party moves between slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, the first wave of the AIDS crisis, the Vietnam War, and the catastrophe-riddled horizon of the early twenty-first century to consider this worldmaking practice as it is born of the tension between freedom and its negation. With urgency and pathos, Chambers-Letson argues that it is through minoritarian performance that we keep our dead alive and with us as we struggle to survive an increasingly precarious present.
"Joshua Chambers-Letson invites us to the party in his beautifully written consideration of the collective functions of performance for more livable black and brown, queer and trans worlds. In a series of cogent readings of various forms of performance across the twentieth century, from Nina Simone to Tseng Kwong Chi, After the Party is a treatise and a handbook for queer and trans of color survival. A timely book and an urgent read!"
—C. Riley Snorton, author of Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity
"A luminous reflection on mourning, care, and being together. Through deft and intimate analyses, Chambers-Letson assembles a group of insurgents, minoritarian performers whose meditations on survival, death, and collectivity provide the basis for a new theory of communism. These performers show us snippets of space where the violences of neoliberalism, racism, and homophobia are met with howls, defiance, and a turn toward community. These are moments where life persists and this book brings you there."
—Amber Jamilla Musser, author of Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism
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