On Imagine Otherwise this week, I interview feminist scholar Amber Jamilla Musser about how abstraction and materiality work together in the context of racialized sexuality; why the art/activism/academia braid for Amber really comes down to the politics of embodiment; how to navigate credit, voice, and schedules when co-authoring with another writer; and why valuing and highlighting embodied knowledge is key to how Amber imagines otherwise.
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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Amber’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).
Guest: Amber Jamilla Musser
Amber Jamilla Musser has published widely on race, critical theory, queer femininities, sexuality, and queer of color critique. She is the author of two books examining racialized sexuality and aesthetics: Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (New York University Press, 2018) and Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism (New York University Press, 2014).
Amber received an MSt in women’s studies from Oxford University and her PhD in the history of science from Harvard University. She has held fellowships at New York University’s Draper Program in Gender Studies and Brown University’s Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, and her research has been supported by grants from the Ruth Landes Memorial Fellowship and the Arts Writers’ Grant from the Warhol Foundation.
She currently teaches American studies at George Washington University and writes art criticism with Maureen Catbagan for The Brooklyn Rail.
“A lot of what I’m trying to do in these projects is really make a case for thinking about the political valence of the aesthetic and also an argument that knowledge is residing in the production of these works. So it is art, but it is also entangled in all of the other things that we traditionally look to to see how worlds are organized, how politics are made, how power is transferred, how hierarchies are established. It is my firm belief that if we train ourselves to understand aesthetics in this way, we can begin to shift valuations that have happened and, in turn, produce a different world.”
– Amber Jamilla Musser on episode 93 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast