Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Intimacy has been understood both as merely a term for closeness and a site where liberal forms such as the couple, the family, and heteronormative kinship are enforced (Povinelli 2006). What relationship might camp and kitsch performance (Sedgwick 1990) have to this space called intimacy? What can camp and kitsch performance tell us about the historically heteronormative structures like home, family, and parental care, we might associate with intimacy? In fieldwork in adolescent health clinics for "at-risk" gay and transgender youth, I explore the ways in which intimacy is reframed, made fun of, demanded and rejected by patients and their doctors, nurses, caseworkers, and therapists. These clinical sites emerged in zones of radical economic abandonment (Povinelli 2011) as a response to public health epidemics related to poverty, sex work, and homelessness. In these zones, attitudes of haughty aristocratic glamor, high camp sarcasm, and squealing kitsch fandom swirl around the subject of intimacy as caregiving and care receiving roles are adopted, tried on, and abandoned.