“Disturbing Attachments: Genet, Modern Pederasty, and Queer History” by Kadji Amin— Jean Genet and Queer Literature and Theory



Amin, Kadji. “Disturbing Attachments: Genet, Modern Pederasty, and Queer History”, Duke University Press, 2018.

Jean Genet and Queer Literature and Theory

Amos Lassen

Jean Genet (1910–1986) is regarded as the canonical queer figure from the pre-Stonewall past, “with contemporary queer sensibilities attuned to a defiant non-normativity.” Not only was Genet a homosexual, he was also a criminal and a social pariah, a bitter opponent of the police state, an anti- Semite and an ally of revolutionary anti–colonial movements. In  this new look at  Genet, Kadji Amin “challenges the idealization of Genet as a paradigmatic figure within queer studies to illuminate the methodological dilemmas at the heart of queer theory.” Pederasty was central to Genet’s sexuality and to his passionate cross-racial and transnational political activism late in life and it is one of the problematic and outmoded queer attachments that Amin uses to historicize and to take away the idealism of queer theory. He shows how the genealogy of Genet’s imaginaries of attachment influence pressing issues within contemporary queer politics and scholarship including prison abolition, homonationalism, and pinkwashing. This book., “Disturbing Attachments” both productively and provocatively unsettles queer studies by examining and excavating the history of its affective tendencies to reveal and expand the contexts that inform the use and connotations of the term “queer”.

“Kadji Amin has written an important especially for those in the field of queer studies and queer thought. We see the permanent dissonance between politics and erotic and psychic life. Amin explores the contradictions of queer studies and argues that those in the field must reconsider idealizations “without abandoning its attachments to queer coalition.”

Amin challenges foundational presumptions in queer theory by grappling with the passionate attachments that tie queer studies to the radical Genet. As we do this, we begin to think differently about theory, politics, and queer relationships.”

Amin disrupts the genealogies of queer attachments while at the same time interrogates “the shape of the political in queer theory and the idealization of the queer erotic.”