Opacity – Minority – Improvisation

An Exploration of the Closet Through Queer Slangs and Postcolonial Theory

The expression »to come out of the closet« calls for an analysis of how language and notional as well as social spaces interact and intersect to constitute »queer«. This performative book, a product of artistic research, is an exploration of the proverbial closet through linguistics, queer, and postcolonial theory. It is a project in which opacity, minority, and improvisation happen on the levels of content, analysis, and typography. Eleven queer slangs from around the world become part of an exploration of queerness and knowledge from the Periphery through autoethnography, Édouard Glissant's concept of opacity, José Muñoz's disidentifications, and Gloria Anzaldúa's performative writing. Theory, personal accounts, and art are interwoven to offer an interdisciplinary reading of the slangs as queer methods of survival and resistance.

€39.00 * $50.00 *

11 May 2020, 230 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-5133-1

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Anna T.

Anna T., Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, Österreich

1. Why did you choose this topic?

I have been working on the closet and the conditions that produce and dismantle it in a variety of contexts for several years. It was the natural development of that interest – combined with my fascination over linguistics – that led to this project. Given the sociocultural roots of the expression ‹to come out of the closet› (from the West/North) I wanted to explore it not only in its context of origin, but also from the Periphery, through different registers, postcolonial theory, and artistic research.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

The book introduces 3 characteristics of the closet which function as tactics of survival and resistance for queer subjects; opacity (borrowed from Édouard Glissant), minority (borrowed from Deleuze & Guattari), and improvisation (a loan from performance studies that opens up the element of ephemerality). It explores 11 queer slangs from around the world and is crucially the product of artistic research employing performative writing, code-switching, artworks, and playful aesthetics.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

What I hope colleagues in Queer Studies, Linguistics, Postcolonial Studies, and Artistic Research will find relevant and useful, is the novel combination of elements of playfulness, art, improvisation, theory, oral histories, failure, and the focus on vulnerability not as a sign of epistemological weakness but a site for valuable knowledge to be produced and relationships to be nurtured. It also challenges clarity and respectability and brings into proximity the impossibility of speaking in translation.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

Sara Ahmed is the first person that comes to mind as her work on affect, queerness, and racial issues has inspired parts of this project. Her stance as a willful subject, one that combines paranoid and reparative readings, one that is a feminist killjoy, have been great influences on my work and me as a person.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

The closet can be reparatively read – through language – as a spatiotemporal event that fosters resistance, community, and empowerment.

Anna T.
Book title
Opacity – Minority – Improvisation An Exploration of the Closet Through Queer Slangs and Postcolonial Theory
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung
Commodity Group
SOC032000 SOC012000 POL045000
Release date
11 May 2020
Geschlecht, Sprache
Autoethnography, Philosophy, Performance Studies, Art-based Research, Linguistics, Queer Studies, Postcolonial Studies
Performance, Periphery, Culture, Orality, Queerness, Gender, Language, Gender Studies, Queer Theory, Postcolonialism, Political Art, Cultural Studies


On page 76, line 4 of the book's first print-run it erroneously says 'John Crow' rather than 'Jim Crow'. The mistake has been changed in the electronic version and will be amended in subsequent print-runs.

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