In Sensual Excess, Amber Jamilla Musser imagines epistemologies of sensuality that emerge from fleshiness. To do so, she works against the framing of black and brown bodies as sexualized, objectified, and abject, and offers multiple ways of thinking with and through sensation and aesthetics. Each chapter draws our attention to particular aspects of pornotropic capture that black and brown bodies must always negotiate. Though these technologies differ according to the nature of their encounters with white supremacy, together they add to our understanding of the ways that structures of domination produce violence and work to contain bodies and pleasures within certain legible parameters.
To do so, Sensual Excess analyzes moments of brown jouissance that exceed these constraints. These ruptures illuminate multiple epistemologies of selfhood and sensuality that offer frameworks for minoritarian knowledge production which is designed to enable one to sit with uncertainty. Through examinations of installations and performances like Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party, Kara Walker's A Subtlety, Patty Chang's In Love and Nao Bustamante's Neapolitan, Musser unpacks the relationships between racialized sexuality and consumption to interrogate foundational concepts in psychoanalytic theory, critical race studies, feminism, and queer theory. In so doing, Sensual Excess offers a project of knowledge production focused not on mastery, but on sensing and imagining otherwise, whatever and wherever that might be.
Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance
NYU Press 2018. New paperback; 240 pages