Advances in LGBTQ rights in the recent past—marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the expansion of hate crimes legislation—have been accompanied by a rise in attacks against trans, queer and/or gender-nonconforming people of color. In Atmospheres of Violence, theorist and organizer Eric A. Stanley shows how this seeming contradiction reveals the central role of racialized and gendered violence in the United States. Rather than suggesting that such violence is evidence of individual phobias, Stanley shows how it is a structuring antagonism in our social world. Drawing on an archive of suicide notes, AIDS activist histories, surveillance tapes, and prison interviews, they offer a theory of anti-trans/queer violence in which inclusion and recognition are forms of harm rather than remedies to it. In calling for trans/queer organizing and worldmaking beyond these forms, Stanley points to abolitionist ways of life that might offer livable futures.

“Eric A. Stanley’s Atmospheres of Violence animates trans/queer, young queer, and racially dominated lives never quite stamped out by a brittle white supremacist egosystem. Written with tenderness and passionate thunder, the book’s brilliant storytelling circulates grief and hope for the governed who remain alive and ungovernable. Throughout, Stanley offers vital pedagogies of truancy and wicked survival for potential collective life.” — Lauren Berlant, author of Cruel Optimism

Atmospheres of Violence offers a generous and generative reminder that queer and trans lives have always been bigger and more brilliant than the deadly state that tries to frighten and cajole us. Out of a devastating archive, Eric A. Stanley’s queer and trans stories rise beyond assimilation, honoring our gorgeous survival and refusals as resistance.” — Tourmaline, artist, activist, and writer

Available from Duke University Press September 2021.