Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890-1910 (SUNY Press 2019)
As Argentina rose to political and economic prominence at the turn of the twentieth century, debates about the family, as an ideological structure and set of lived relationships, took center stage in efforts to shape the modern nation. In Argentine Intimacies, Joseph M. Pierce draws on queer studies, Latin American studies, and literary and cultural studies to consider the significance of one family in particular during this period of intense social change: Carlos, Julia, Delfina, and Alejandro Bunge. One of Argentina’s foremost intellectual and elite families, the Bunges have had a profound impact on Argentina’s national culture and on Latin American understandings of education, race, gender, and sexual norms. They also left behind a vast archive of fiction, essays, scientific treatises, economic programs, and pedagogical texts, as well as diaries, memoirs, and photography. Argentine Intimacies explores the breadth of their writing to reflect on the intersections of intimacy, desire, and nationalism, and to expand our conception of queer kinship. Approaching kinship as an interface of relational dispositions, Pierce reveals the queerness at the heart of the modern family. Queerness emerges not as an alternative to traditional values so much as a defining feature of the state project of modernization.
The popularization of photography in the late 19th century coincided with the rise of both anthropology and scientific racism across the Americas—often in concert with nascent museological archives—and was a crucial tool in the portrayal of Indigenous peoples as destined for extinction. But Indigenous peoples were not simply passive subjects in this process of photographic documentation. At the margins of the frame, in minute and subtle gestures, but also but also in overt and direct staging techniques, Indigenous subjects of this anthropological gaze resisted the colonial paradigm of Native elimination.
By homing in on specific examples of gestural resistance by Indigenous subjects—a look sideways, a squirming child, a coy grin—my new work develops a speculative methodology for thinking with an embodied decolonial repertoire that emerges from the past to impinge on the present, itself a form of haunting that the photograph both depends on and preserves.