2023 Scholar-in-Residence: Eric A. Stanley
Eric A. Stanley is an associate professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. They are the author of Atmospheres of Violence Structuring Antagonism and The Trans/Queer Ungovernable. In collaboration with Chris Vargas, they directed the films Homotopia (2006) and Criminal Queers (2019). Eric is also a coeditor of "Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production" and "The Politics of Visibility and Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex."
Their book Atmospheres of Violence: Structuring Antagonism and the Trans/Queer Ungovernable (Duke University Press, 2021) asserts that advances in LGBTQ rights in the recent past—marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the expansion of hate crimes legislation—have been accompanied by a rise in attacks against trans, queer and/or gender-nonconforming people of color. In Atmospheres of Violence, Stanley as theorist and organizer shows how this seeming contradiction reveals the central role of racialized and gendered violence in the United States. Rather than suggesting that such violence is evidence of individual phobias, Stanley shows how it is a structuring antagonism in our social world. Drawing on an archive of suicide notes, AIDS activist histories, surveillance tapes, and prison interviews, they offer a theory of anti-trans/queer violence in which inclusion and recognition are forms of harm rather than remedies to it. In calling for trans/queer organizing and worldmaking beyond these forms, Stanley points to abolitionist ways of life that might offer livable futures.
The film “Criminal Queers” visualizes a radical trans/queer struggle against the prison industrial complex and toward a world without walls. Remembering that prison breaks are both a theoretical and material practice of freedom, this film imagines what spaces might be opened up if crowbars, wigs, and metal files become tools for transformation. Follow Yoshi, Joy, Susan and Lucy as they fiercely read everything from the Human Rights Campaign and hate crimes legislation to the non-profitization of social movements. Criminal Queers grows our collective liberation by working to abolish the multiple ways our hearts, genders, and desires are confined.