El Cazador de la Ciudadana (The Hunter of the Citizen)
I am using this week’s theme to call attention to the ways in which queer desires disrupt the affective logic of liberal citizenship. My video highlights one of the many citizenship rights denied to gays and lesbians in the United States, the right to spousal immigration sponsorship. Family-based immigration is the most common route to U.S. permanent residency (the “green card”), however federal law under DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) does not recognize same-sex relationships and therefore offers no path for gay and lesbian citizens to sponsor their foreign partners. The result is that queer couples and families have been literally hunted down and separated under U.S. immigration policies, forced into foreign exile abroad or illegality at home. U.S. citizens who happen to love a non-resident alien are often confronted with an agonizing “Sophie’s Choice” between that relationship and their jobs, their families, and their country.
Magic Flute Production’s “El Cazador de la Inmigrantes” (The Hunter of the Immigrants) is a satirical trailer based on the popular Japanese television anime (and manga) series, El Cazador de la Bruja (The Hunter of the Witch). It is also an example of slash fiction, or video “femslash,” which romantically links the two central female characters of the series, Ellis and Nadie. The video takes the global influence, visibility, and commercial success of anime style and "chicks with guns" narrative motif as a discursive means of interrogating the imbrications of sexuality and gender with citizenship policies and national systems of acceptance and expulsion. For me, the video strikes a deeply visceral chord, as it dramatizes questions of mobility (voluntary vs. involuntary) within formations of citizenship, basically defining queer citizenship as citizenship on the lam. It serves as a reminder that any discussion of queer citizenship needs to be situated in a transnational queer studies, an analysis of the movements of bodies, desires, technologies, and capital across (and against) national boundaries. Moreover, it is an important reminder (suggested in the artist's use of the plural “inmigrantes”) that queer citizens in the United States are effectively rendered aliens in their own nation.
Thanks for the great post
Thanks for the great post Dana. I found the producer's comments directing the viewer to take the story seriously revealing. I think it underscores a troubling consequence of the recent irony-soaked comedy culture for queer (and all political) movements. What does it mean when Jon Stewart or Sarah Silverman seem to champion LGBTQ rights in a voice that usually finds earnestness lame (or should I say "gay"?) The proliferation of the bromance discourse and gay-for jokes seems to work to provide straight viewers a "safe" distance from queerness in a similar way.
affect & citizenship
Great post. I like that you underscore the issue of affect here, that the vid positions queer desire as something different from the current permutations of sexual difference, mobility, and political subjectivity enabled by liberal citizenship. It seems that affect is fundamental to matters of narrative and representation -- particularly when these things traffic in the political, especially when they take up issues of difference.
A question -- To what extent are similar affective trajectories mobilized in commercial media? As in, fan practices are usually identified as doing new things with standard fare, a paradigm for interrogating these things structured like: fan = good/corporate = bad. Yet it seems that the increasingly niche-focused cultural industries promulgate a lot of similar ideas. This isn't to say that one should conclusively define this as "progress," of course, but it seems that taking up questions of affect is a way to imagine parallels and similarities across texts produced in different contexts... As in, I would argue that the clip in my lil post -- as commercial, bland, and apolitical-by-design as it may be -- provides evidence of something similar, though not identical...
Good question, Hollis. I'm not sure I know how to answer it. We may be drawing on different archives of affect here. I'm thinking more about a theoretical model of citizenship that root national belonging and identifications in the sense of fellow-feeling. Freud models it as a displacement of genital love in CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS. But I'm thinking more along the lines of Martha Nussbaum and, above all, Berlant's work on "infantile citizenship" and the heteronormative structuring of affective national participation.
That said, one could certainly draw connections to fan communities and practices, although I tend not to draw hard lines between the stuff that fans do and the stuff that corporations do, since they are so interestingly embedded in one another and mutually enabling (or disabling, as one might wish for in certain instances). But I will go out on a limb here and say that we might not want to abandon critical distinctions between affect, as a representational strategy of fan/consumer activism, and affect as a policy-justifying instrument of the state. What I appreciate about the Cazador video is that it sees the difference--the instruments of state cannot be reduced to yet another commodity one might or might not buy online or even analyze on YouTube, although the agents of the state would often like it to seem so, as part of the choice package of consumer-citizen rights.
But when we speak of difference, isn't that "the difference," regardless of a little maleness or femaleness here or there?
Your post actually forced me back to Bruce Robbins' work on cosmopolitanism as the latest iteration and assertion of nationalisms gone global--all good stuff.
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