This week we returned to considering how curiosity is politicized, often expressed in ways that dehumanize the people at whom is it directed — sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, but almost inevitably with further-reaching consequences than we might like to imagine.
And, then: what does it look like to push back against that tendency — in ourselves, in our popular media, in academic journals? Amy Marvin tells a cautionary tale of misdirected curiosity’s risks for trans people and takes on the consequences of people being reduced to curios.
What I Learned: I had not realized what a commercial industry has arisen among journalist and academics in making a “study” of trans people. It is a useful reminder that “paying attention” can take many forms, not all of them good.
What I Loved: Much like the movement to be intentionally anti-racist, Amy advocates for anti-curiotizing. She makes a case for purposeful efforts to counter the economic and other interests that contribute to the dehumanizing effects of turning real people into curios — and engaging curiosity in caring ways that yield “more complicated and nuanced areas of study.” That, and her encouragement to bring humor to our own self discovery.
Want to keep learning? Amy recommends reading more. Start here:
- Trapdoor – Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility
- Conference: Trans Thinking, Thinking Trans
Amy Marvin is the fifth in my series of interviews with the contributing authors to the forthcoming anthology Curiosity Studies: A New Ecology of Knowledge (University of Minnesota Press, 2020). Stay tuned for future episodes!
You can follow Amy Marvin on Twitter at @amyrmarv
Many thanks to London-based audio producer Arlie Adlington for sharing his work, “The toilets at home are all gender neutral.”
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