The first three questions I will conclude with serve to summarize the end of Chen’s argument. The final three attempt to speak to the beginning of Chen’s essay.
1. Chen writes, “And how is it that we are doing this, doing all this, to ourselves? Yet even as the toxins them- selves spread far and wide, such a “we” is a false unity. There are those who find themselves on the underside of industrial “development” (276). How might impoverished communities, here and abroad be “queer?” How might these communities fit into the framework of intersectionality? Of assemblages?
2. Chen writes, “The kinds of bonds that link these groups, bonds that are recognized in the potent affinities of transnational labor and immigrant activism, have been laid there from without, to suture and reinforce multiple transnational systems of racialization, labor hierarchy, and capital — and ultimately of affection or nonaffection. These groups are industrial- ization’s canaries” (276). The canary metaphor has also been used to describe the ways homonormative communities in the U. S. serve as the vanguard for gentrification. What do you make of this?
3. Chen gets into a particularly complex area at the very end, writing, “For would not my nonproductivity, my nonhuman sociality, render me some other human’s “dead” — as certainly it has, in case after case of the denial of disabled existence, emotional life, sexuality, or subjectivity? Or must couches be cathected differently from humans? Or do only certain couches deserve the attribution of a (sexual) fetish? These are only questions to which I have no ready answers, except to declare that those forms of exceptionalism no longer seem reasonable.” Is Chen advocating for a new subjectivity of the object? Are the fetish communities to become one of the assemblage communities?
4. Chen writes, “I . . . consider how vulnerability, safety, immunity, threat, and toxicity itself are sexu- ally and racially instantiated in the recent panic about lead content in Chinese- manufactured toys exported to the United States” (266). How might gendered ideas about Chinese bodies also be instantiated in this this discourse?
5. Chen writes that she plans to: “interweave biopolitical considerations of immunity into an account of the peculiar intimacies and alienations of heavy metal poisoning, rendered in the first person” (265). How does this move toward “authenticity” support Chen’s assertion that the toxic body becomes “queered?”
6. Chen writes that part of her project is to “investigate the potential to resignify toxicity as a theoretical figure, in the interest of inviting contradictory play and crediting queer bonds already here: the living dead, the dead living, antisocial love, and inanimate affection” (266). How does each of Chen’s four designations play within Queer theory discourse?