Queer Democracy undertakes an interdisciplinary critical investigation of the centuries-old metaphor of society as a body, drawing on queer and transgender accounts of embodiment as a constructive resource for reimagining politics and society.
Daniel Miller argues that this metaphor has consistently expressed a desire for social and political order, grounded in the social body’s imagined normative shape or morphology. The consistent result, from the “concord” discourses of the pre-Christian Stoics, all the way through to contemporary nationalism and populism, has been the suppression of any dissent that would unmake the social body’s presumed normativity. Miller argues that the conception of embodiment at the heart of the metaphor is a fantasy, and that negative social and political reactions to dissent represent visceral, dysphoric responses to its reshaping of the social body. He argues that social body’s essential queerness, defined by fluidity and lack of a fixed morphology, spawns queer democracy, expressed through ongoing social and political practices that aim to extend liberty and equality to new social domains.
Queer Democracy articulates a new departure for the ongoing development of theoretical articulations linking queer and trans theory with political theory. It will appeal to both academic and non-academic readers engaged in research on political theory, populism, US religion, gender studies, and queer studies.
Table of Contents
1. Dysphoric Desire: Fantasizing the Social Body
2. Traversing the Fantasy: Queer Democracy
3. Bedeviled By Nature: The Social Contract Position
4. Fantasies of Authenticity: Nationalism and Populism
5. American Dysphoria I: Christian Nationalism
6. American Dysphoria II: Civic Nationalism
Daniel Miller is Associate Professor of Religion and Social Thought and Chair of the Department of Liberal Studies at Landmark College. His research interests include religion, political theory and American politics, gender and embodiment, 20th Century Continental philosophy, and theory and method in the study of religion.
"Queer Democracy stages a desperately needed intervention into Western political theory, which is going to have to get smarter about race, sex, gender, and religion if it hopes to offer a vision of justice in the midst of raging nationalisms. Exacting and inviting, rigorous yet clear, this is Daniel Miller at his best."
Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Professor of Religion, Core faculty in the Science and Society Program, Affiliated faculty in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, Wesleyan University
"With so much theoretical sophistication, Queer Democracy responds to an enduring and urgent question: what differences does a democracy’s social body make for individual bodies who live in it? Queer Democracy’s response is smart and trans-formational. If you are a body living in a democracy, this response affects you. And after reading Queer Democracy, its response could become yours."
William Robert, Director of LGBTQ Studies, Associate Professor of Religion, Syracuse University
"Social and political theorists have long understood "the body politic" as a crucial metaphor, yet few have taken the metaphor as seriously as Daniel Miller does here, in an impressive work that runs from the Stoics to contemporary Christian nationalists. If social bodies are like actual bodies – marked not by their fixity, but by their ever-shifting morphology – then the social body is a queer body, and democracy is queer democracy."
Samuel A. Chambers, Professor of Political Theory and Political Economy, Dept. of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University
"Miller’s Queer Democracy is compelling for how it bridges the divide between trans and queer theory with political theory. However, it will be of great appeal to non-specialists because of how Miller connects the metaphor of the body-political to contemporary iterations of populism and nationalism. There is no greater contemporary concern for American democracy than White Christian nationalism and its variants. And Miller is one of the few scholars able to capture the various elements of this political moment in a coherent theoretical frame. Miller’s analytical acumen enables him to reveal the ideological underpinnings of the religious and nationalistic forces at the center of American politics. This work is thus important for scholars working at the overlap of queer theory and political theory, but also any reader interested in understanding the passions, affects, and identities shaping the American public square today."
Bradley Onishi, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Skidmore College