The expressiveness of excess flesh – the aesthetic – makes theory. Flesh, that dense concentration of Thingness and Otherness, always has a space that exceeds capture. It is in this opacity where we find permutations of selfhood, brown jouissance, and the feminine. Though femininity has become a disappearing horizon – unable to be imagined without collapsing under the weight of materiality – thinking with race and excess offers an alternative narrative. This story sutures queerness and femininity while keeping us attentive to the flesh and other geographies of intimacy.
Amber Jamilla Musser is Associate Professor of American studies at George Washington University. Her research is at the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality studies. Musser has published widely on race and critical theory, queer femininities and race, race and sexuality, and queer of colour critique. She has an MSt in Women’s Studies from the University of Oxford and received her PhD in History of Science from Harvard University, Boston. She is the author of Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (2018), which centralizes women of colour’s aesthetics to reimagine sexuality and received a 2018 Arts Writer’s Grant from the Warhol Foundation, and Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism (2014), which uses masochism as an analytic frame to theorize felt relationships to power. She is co-editor along with Kadji Amin and Roy Pérez of Queer Form: Aesthetics, Race, and the Violences of the Social, a special issue of ASAP/Journal, on aesthetics and queer of colour critique. Currently she is beginning a project on noise, ethics, and aesthetics and writes art reviews for Brooklyn Rail.