The “stuff ” of archives: Mess, Migration, and Queer Lives

Martin F. Manalansan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars such as Anjali Arondekar, Antoinette Burton, and Ann Cvetkovich have suggested that the archive is a space for dwelling and a quotidian site for erotically charged energies, meanings, and other bodily processes. Following and extending these ideas, this essay seeks to establish a capacious notion of the archive devised and enabled by undocumented queer immigrants' households in New York City. Using ethnographic fieldwork and buoyed by writings in affect theory and material culture studies, this essay aspires to understand how seemingly chaotic and disorderly household material, symbolic, and emotional conditions are arenas for the queer contestations of citizenship, hygiene, and the social order. This essay suggests that mess, clutter, and muddled entanglements are the “stuff“ of queerness, historical memory, aberrant desires, and the archive. Archives, therefore, are constituted by these atmospheric states of material and affective disarray and the narratives spun from them. As such, this essay maps out these queer immigrant archives (conceived as mess) to showcase the relationships between and among objects, bodies, narratives, and desires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-107
Number of pages14
JournalRadical History Review
Issue number120
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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  • Crompton-Noll Award

    Manalansan, Martin Fajardo (Recipient), 2016

    Prize: Prize/Award

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