El Cazador de la Ciudadana

Curator's Note

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Ronald Becker's picture

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.               

Dana Heller's picture

Good observation

Thanks for observing the producer’s "bubble message" at the video’s opening.  It reminded me of an experience I had a couple of years ago, when I went to visit my congressman to ask him to support UAFA (Uniting American Families Act, which would change immigration law to allow same-sex sponsorship.)  Bobby Scott is known as an advocate for civil rights and gay issues, and he welcomed me into his office (as a citizen and resident of his district) knowing that I wanted to discuss gay rights, but as soon as he heard me use the words "gay" and "immigration" in the same sentence, he looked at me like I had two heads—like I could not possibly be serious.  I got the feeling that one of the the terms alone would have been fine—"gay" or "immigration"—but together, oh no.  He would not seriously entertain that linguistic juxtaposition.  He is still not a co-sponsor of UAFA.  But anyway, I wanted to point out a practice of what I would take to be queer citizenship based on our conversations this week: juxtaposing the seemingly unjuxtaposable within the national template of citizenship discourse, policy, and law.  

 

Dana Luciano's picture

Inmigrantes

Great post, Dana, and great conversation. The conceptual disjoint that your congressmember displayed—the inability to hear “gay” and “immigration” in the same sentence—is reproduced in the non-conversation (or worse) between many mainstream immigration-rights and gay-rights groups. Witness Jasmyne Cannick’s infamous Advocate column.  I wonder what kind of rethinking, along these lines, this video could lead us toward.

The femslash aspect of the video also puts me in mind of Karen’s post, but I will comment on that further there….  

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… 

Dana Heller's picture

Affect

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.

 

 

 

Karen Tongson's picture

Affect and Cosmopolitanism

Great convo here. I would only add to this stream on affect and cosmopolitanism by referring to Jenkins’ piece on "Pop Cosmopolitanism" from Fans, Bloggers, Gamers. While I’m  nowhere near as sanguine as Jenkins often seems to be about the promises of participatory culture and the affect it engenders, I do appreciate his efforts at remapping cosmopolitanism through youth cultures in other regional environments (see esp. the opening example of the rural American manga fan). We can think of it as another iteration of Bhabha’s "vernacular comopolitanism"—but one that at the very least, shifts cosmopolitan practices beyond actual cities to other built (or unbuilt) environments. In my own work on the suburbs, I take issue with whether or not these forms of convergence can still fall under the sign of "cosmopolitanism," while questioning our desire to categorize such exchanges of transnational appreciation, affect, and even activity, as "cosmopolitan."

 

I agree with you, Dana, about being cautious not to conflate all iterations of affect, especially in light of its function as—in your words—"a policy justifying instrument of the state." We have arrived at a transitional moment between two idioms of American national affect: from W’s constant evocation of the trauma of 9-11 to the rhetorics of hope renewal, repair and indeed even reparation, that Obama-as-figure invokes for many.  While I’m sure much will be made of this transition by scholars in various fields, from an institutional perspective, I think we are all better equipped to grapple with these questions about affect and citizenship because of queer studies…

Karen Tongson | University of Southern California | www.ohindustry.com

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