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The Erotic Margin: Sexuality and Spatiality in Alterist Discourse

Reviewing the large, disparate, and often contradictory western discourse on gender and sexuality of the Other

Gender and sexuality have long held an important place in western attitudes towards the people and regions of the world—from the titillating accounts of harem life in the Middle East to terrifying captivity narratives of North America. The Erotic Margin is a first attempt to pull together the large, disparate, and often contradictory literature, and view it as a corpus. Schick argues that such images served to construct spatial difference, and thereby helped Europe represent its own place in the world during an age of rapid geographical expansion.

Informed by the recent literature on human geography as well as feminist and postcolonial theory, The Erotic Margin focuses on erotica and sexual anthropology as well as travel literature in which, from the eighteenth century on, both traveler and destination were portrayed in unmistakably gendered and sexualized terms. Reviewing examples ranging from the New World to India, the Near East to black Africa, and the South sea islands to the Barbary Coast, the book reflects on why foreign women were variously portrayed as alluring or threatening, foreign men as effeminate weaklings or dangerous rapists, and foreign lands as sexual idylls or hearts of darkness.


  • “Schick explores the netherworld of ethnopornographic sources, then returns to high ground with a theory of alterist discourse that opens new horizons for eveyone interested in representations of the Other. I know of no other work that theorizes the exoticization and eroticization of the Other with such rigor or such far-reaching implications.”


  • Feminism for the 99% and the Compulsion to Repeat: Reflections on Gender, Labor, and Language

    Gender Strike, San Francisco, March 8 2017. via It's Going Down

    Feminist politics and movement making has a history of compulsively
    repeating, reinforcing, and reconstructing systematic forms of exclusion, as well as shallow calls for inclusion. Women of color feminisms, transnational feminism, transfeminism, and feminist disability studies have all, in different ways and through various methodologies, critiqued and reframed the ways in which the category "woman" is invoked and politically deployed in relation to race, class, sexuality, gender identity, dis/ability, mental health, capital, neo-colonial rule, and the nation-state form.1 These critiques contest the dominant interpretations of the category “woman” within feminist thought and political organization in order to conceive a feminist politics that is truly liberatory. The March 8 International Women's Strike was not only a strike against women's visible and invisible labor, but it was also an international call for the reinvigoration of a radical feminism for the 99% (referred to by some, and in the rest of this piece, as F99).

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  • Pulse, Beat, Rhythm, Cry: Orlando and the queer and trans necropolitics of loss and mourning

    “how to theorize and to politicize violence in the midst of violence, to indicate the wetness of water while submerged” –Jared Sexton

    “We would sit there and ask, ‘Why do we suffer?’ As we got more involved into the movements, we said, ‘Why do we always got to take the brunt of this shit?’” –Sylvia Rivera

    Audre Lorde said that anger holds information and power. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, we might extend this and say that grief holds information and power. Like so many, I’ve been feeling and sitting in anguish, mourning the collective loss of those precious queer and trans folks of color killed at Pulse.

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  • Vivek Chibber: Postcolonial Theory and "Really Existing Capitalism"

    At a recent talk in Crotia, Vivek Chibber discussed some of the major theoretical issues at the heart of his Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capitalwhich has caused a storm of controversy that since its publication:

    "One of the striking contradictions of postcolonial theory is that, even though it presents itself as the analytical framework of capitalist domination, it rejects the idea of a universal theory. Hence, it is in the awkward position of the acknowledgment that capitalism has been globalized, but denying that we can conceive a general theory of its functioning or its properties. This is a deep and devastating contradiction at the very heart of postcolonial theory. I will examine the sources of this dilemma and argue that the best framework for understanding capitalism remains a Marxian one, which I further defend from the accusations of weakness made by postcolonial critics."

    The talk, moderated by Katarina Peović Vuković, was given at Cinema Europa, Crotia, for the 
8th Subversive Film Festival, "Spaces of Emancipation: Micropolitics and Rebellions", 14th May 2015. 

    More from Vivek Chibber here.