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Editors’ Choice: (Re)Animating Queer Life(after?)Death – Queer/ing Multimodality and/as Practicing Mourning

Content warning: This post will explore topics relating to anti-queer violence and death.

In Digital Death: Mortality and Beyond in the Online Age, we see an interestingly multimodal argument for agency beyond the grave. Since, “digital technologies are increasingly intertwined with physical environments” (p. 111) myriad technologies  are offering an embodied mourning experience. Living Headstones allow for QR codes to be embedded in the gravestone which then direct mourners to a website containing biographical information compiled by the deceased prior to death. Catacombo systems even allow for music to be played inside the coffin by the living who create playlists for their loved ones. These technologies, in one form or another, seem to queer the very (already permeable) boundaries between life and death.

On the morning of June 12, 2016, we woke up to the news of the shooting at Pulse Orlando. Our bodyminds felt the crushing weight of what seems to be the immanence of queer death/dying. While we may have felt the weight of queer mourning on June 12, we cannot strip the specifically local contexts of this tragedy. This was an attack particularly on queer Latinx communities and on queers of color. The particular space and time of the Pulse massacre is vital in understanding that race, place, and discourses of American nationalist propaganda are inextricable from conversations on queerness and anti-queer violence.

Responding to Pulse, Joseph Pierce (Cherokee) reminds us, “Our queer breath is a revolutionary act” and that queers “breathe as fugitive, delinquent bod[ies]that [exist]in spite of this violence.” Pierce recalls “a spontaneous vigil” after Pulse that took place on Christopher Street, where “Anti-terror police” stood “next to those brown bodies trickling in after Puerto Rican Pride.” Such a vigil, as are all spontaneous vigils, kairotic spaces of mourning that move-flow with/in networked ecologies of embodied queer rhetorical practicing. (Queer) bodies have always been the stuff of relational/queer mourning practicings. Our bodies are the very stuff of multimodal design practice and, as Christina Cedillo reminds us, “We have always been multimodal.”


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This content was selected for Digital Humanities Now by Editor-in-Chief LaQuanda Walters Cooper based on nominations by Editors-at-Large: