Scaling Trans Studies (MLA 2021)

deadline for submissions: 
March 10, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Davy Knittle and Ava L.J. Kim, University of Pennsylvania
contact email: 

In her 2014 Transgender Studies Quarterly article, "The Technical Capacities of the Body, Assembling Race, Technology, and Transgender," Jules Gill-Peterson argues that "if both transgender and race benefit from treatment as technical capacities of the body, it remains to explain how it is they retain their differences in this framework as well as how they are made more or less available at various ecological scales by systems of normalization and regulation" (412). This panel, which will be chaired by Mel Chen, builds on decolonial, environmental, and trans of color approaches to how systems of normalization regulate bodies and their ecological contexts, and takes up Gill-Peterson's call to describe how race and trans constitute one another at scales from the hormone molecule to patterns of transnational migration.

We seek papers that set trans as an analytic in dialogue with scholarship in postcolonial critique, Black studies, the environmental humanities, disability studies, and science and technology studies to explore what a multi-scalar reading of trans makes evident about how gendered and racialized logics of regulation structure the movement within the body and across the globe of people, weather, goods, and information.

We hope that the papers in this panel contribute to a conversation that expands upon Jasbir Puar's claim in her 2017 book The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability, following Hortense Spillers, that "gender normativity coagulates through biopolitical control of reproduction, civilizational discourses, and racial hierarchies" (39). We aim to situate trans analysis across scales as an important interlocutor for discourses of global political, social, cultural, and environmental change by describing how gender and its racialized normalization are constitutive logics of what globality is, as well as how beings and systems behave. Specifically, by reading trans across scales, we aim to further a conversation about how trans approaches to questions of power and representation might move beyond the scalar frame of the trans body that has been canonical to feminist, queer, and trans theoretical engagements to address questions of social reproduction, political power, and medical and environmental ethics. Please submit a 250-300 word abstract to and by Tuesday, March 10th.