11 Minor Marxism: Queer Materialisms for a World Inside Out


This working group examines the work, uses, and limits of Marxism for a world inside out. As retrenched authoritarianism and right-wing nationalism rise alongside and in response to capitalism’s continued (dis)ordering of the contemporary world, what political frameworks and practices do we have to fracture and denounce power and transform the political landscape? Rather than celebrating Marxism and class struggle as the answers to (neo)liberal world orders, this working group aims to queer Marxist commitments by analyzing the work to which minoritarian subjects put socialist and Marxist ideals in the past, present, and future. How, we ask, do the practices of disabled, racialized, queer, indigenous, trans, and feminist communities become occluded by Marxism’s universalism, yet amending its very tenets? What does redistribution look like when it contends not just with a focus on the means of production, but also on the material forces of indigeneity, third/first world divides, and racial liberalism? How does sexuality attend to capitalist production, and how is historical materialism shaped by desires, drives, pleasures, and their reproduction? Rather than prescribing answers to such questions, we turn to aesthetic, activist, and theoretical practices that help us grapple with our longings to build a world to come through the elaboration, praxis, and proliferation of minor Marxisms.

Format and Structure:

The larger goal of this working group is to create a network of scholars who are working at the intersection of performance studies and Marxist theory. Rather than consolidating the convention of the session into one or two hands, the conveners have established a central committee that will do the work of cultivating a diverse set of pre-circulated readings in Marxism with an emphasis on the minor: from classic and overlooked (or queer) texts in the Marxist tradition to the contemporary vanguards of Marxist praxis. A month before the conference, participants will submit to the central committee a 1 page double- spaced proposal for a paper, art work, or other form of contribution to the working group based upon the readings. Based on these submissions, the conveners will divide participants into small subgroups pooled by interest. Each day will follow a series of movements: a collective group discussion on the readings organizing the day, followed by a breakout into subgroups for more granular discussion. The second half of each day will be dedicated to one of the subgroups, which will (individually or collectively) present their proposed papers or art projects to the full group, followed by group synthesis and critique.

Languages spoken/understood by conveners:

English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, German


Joshua Chambers-Letson is associate professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University where he conducts research in the areas of performance theory, critical race theory, and queer of color critique. He is the author of After the Party: Performance and Queer of Color Life (NYU Press, 2018) and A Race So Different: Law and Performance in Asian America (NYU Press, 2013, winner of ATHE’s 2014 Outstanding Book Award). With Ann Pellegrini and Tavia Nyong’o is a series co- editor of the Sexual Cultures series at NYU Press.

Kelly Chung will be a Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Dartmouth College. She defended her dissertation in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University in Summer 2018. Her research examines black and women of color feminist performances of inaction—slowness, stillness, and negation—within contemporary visual and performance art on labor. She is the former managing editor of the Journal of Critical Ethnic Studies.

Malik Gaines is assistant professor of Performance Studies in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. His book, Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left (NYU Press, 2017), traces a circulation of political ideas in performances of the 1960s and beyond. His essays have appeared in “Art Journal, Women & Performance”, “e-flux”, and in many exhibition catalogues and arts publications. Since 2000, he has performed and exhibited widely with the group My Barbarian, whose work has been included in the Whitney Biennial, two Performa Biennials, the Montreal Biennial and the Baltic Triennial, among others.

Xandra Ibarra is an Oakland-based performance artist from the US/Mexico border who sometimes works under the alias of “La Chica Boom”. Ibarra’s work has been featured at El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Broad Museum, Popa Gallery, Joe’s Pub, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, to name a few. She has been awarded the Art Matters Grant, NALAC Fund for the Arts, ReGen Artist Fund, and the Franklin Furnace Performance and Variable Media Award. She is currently curating a year long performance art series at The Broad Museum with Nao. As a community organizer, Ibarra’s work is located within feminist immigrant, anti-rape, and prison abolitionist movements. Since 2003, she has actively participated in organizing with INCITE!, a national feminist of color organization.

Hentyle Yapp is an assistant professor at New York University in the Department of Art and Public Policy. He is affiliated faculty with the Disability Council, Asian/Pacific/American Institute, and the Department of Performance Studies. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in “GLQ”, “American Quarterly”, “Journal of Visual Culture”, and “Verge: Studies in Global Asias”. He is also a member of the Social Text collective. He received his BA from Brown University, JD from UCLA School of Law with specializations in Critical Race Theory and Public Interest Law, and a PhD from UC Berkeley in Performance Studies.


  • Alex Pittman
  • Ever Esther Osorio Ruiz
  • Kari Barclay
  • Kavita Kulkarni
  • Liliana Gonzalez
  • Maria Alejandra Rojas
  • Matt Jones
  • Matthew-Robin Nye
  • Nicole Fadellin
  • Roshanak Kheshti
  • Sara Mameni
  • Stephano Espiniza
  • Sue Ellen Case
  • Tavia Nyong'o
  • Wendy Lotterman