Writing for the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Ann Pellegrini offers the following words on the passing of brilliant and beloved colleague and friend, José Esteban Muñoz.
José Muñoz was Professor of Performance Studies at NYU, and a long-time intellectual collaborator and frequent speaker at CSGS events. He is the author of two influential books: Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 1999) and Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (NYU Press 2009); the co-editor of “Sexual Cultures,” a queer studies book series at NYU Press, co-editor of the volumes Everynight Life: Culture and Dance in Latin/o America (Duke University Press, 1997) and Pop Out: Queer Warhol (Duke University Press, 1996); as well as the author of dozens of influential articles, book chapters, and essays in journals, anthologies, and artist catalogues.
Through his teaching, writing, and deeply loving practices of friendship and care, José Muñoz forged capacious and still-expanding queer worlds. Those who have already encountered his work—and those for whom that deep and challenging pleasure awaits—now carry this torch, his torch. In Cruising Utopia José offered a “flight plan for a collective political belonging” and invited us to travel “out of this time and place to something fuller, vaster, more sensual, and brighter.”
I know my own world is “fuller, vaster, more sensual, and brighter” for José’s presence in it. And I know I am not alone in feeling this queer expansion in being on account of José Muñoz. I have such gratitude for him, to him, and such sorrow at his untimely passing. The straight time of life and death claimed him far too soon. But in another time—a queer time of cruising utopia?—may we yet meet.