Feminist Conspiracies, Security Aunties, and Other Surveillance State Fictions
This article investigates two recent fictional representations of the feminized US surveillance state and its “security feminists” (Grewal), with an eye towards limning what visions of social transformation and political life such representations make possible. It first examines Gish Jen’s 2020 novel The Resisters, considering how the novel’s characterization of the US surveillance state as a snoopy suspicious Aunt maintains American liberal fantasies about the value of productive work and institutionally-sanctioned responses to state violence, even as the novel attempts to find grounds for reinvigorating a democratic commons. Jeff Vandermeer’s 2021 novel Hummingbird Salamander, in contrast, is suspicious of democratic visions of the social. Instead, the novel unravels the privatized figure of the “security mom” (Grewal) in order to experiment with how a queer antisocial orientation might confront environmental and institutional collapse and reimagine the idea of “security” itself.
US surveillance state; feminism; antisocial theory; the commons; Aunty work
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