Radical self-care : performance, activism, and queer people of color




McMaster, James Matthew

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Queer people of color in the United States are perpetually under siege politically, psychically, economically, physically, and affectively in the twenty-first century under capitalist white supremacist heteropatriarchy. Radical Self-Care, connects radical artivist performance in Austin, Texas with the theoretical genealogies of queer of color critique, women of color feminism, queer studies, and performance studies in order to propose a program for queer of color survival, sustainment and political revolt. Radical self-care is the holistic praxis that names the confluence of two distinct but inextricable processes developed in the first two chapters of this thesis. In chapter one, I take up the Generic Ensemble Company’s workshop production of What’s Goin’ On? as a case study in order to theorize the ‘performative of sustenance,’ a mechanism of queer worldmaking and queer world sustainment defined by its erotic and utopian affects. Chapter two, through a discussion of reproductive rights activism at the Texas state capitol, reformulates the concept of ‘parrhesia,’ the Socratic practice of ‘free speech’ taken up by Foucault in discussions of the care of the self, into a performance praxis of speaking truth to power with the potential to interrupt hegemonic systems of oppression. The final chapter explicates the ways in which these two mechanisms converge and operate as a dyad in the holistic process of radical self-care through an analysis of Fat: The Play, a devised work that premiered in Austin by and about fat queer femmes. Ultimately, Radical Self- Care aspires to offer queers of color a methodology of queer world sustainment that is also a program of political intervention, grounded in solidarity politics, into those systems of oppression that too often characterize queer of color existence as a project of survival rather than a project of flourishing.



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