Ambivalent Childhoods

Speculative Futures and the Psychic Life of the Child

2021
Author:

Jacob Breslow

Ambivalent Childhoods

Explores childhood in relation to blackness, transfeminism, queerness, and deportability to interrogate what “the child” makes possible


Ambivalent Childhoods brings together critical race, trans, feminist, queer, critical migration, and psychoanalytic theories to explore the role of childhood in shaping and challenging the disposability of young black life, the steadfastness of the gender binary, the queer life of children’s desires, and the precarious status of migrants.

The concept of childhood contains many contested and ambivalent meanings that have extraordinary implications, particularly for those staking their claim for belonging and justice on the wish for inclusion within it. In Ambivalent Childhoods, Jacob Breslow examines contemporary U.S. social justice movements (including Black Lives Matter, transfeminism, queer youth activism, and antideportation movements) to discover and reveal how childhood operates within and against them.

Ambivalent Childhoods brings together critical race, trans, feminist, queer, critical migration, and psychoanalytic theories to explore the role of childhood in shaping and challenging the disposability of young black life, the steadfastness of the gender binary, the queer life of children’s desires, and the precarious status of migrants. Through an engagement with“the psychic life of the child” that combines theoretical discussions of childhood, blackness, transfeminism, and deportability with critical readings of films, narrative, images, and social justice movements, Breslow demonstrates how childhood requires sustained attention as a complex and ambivalent site for contesting the workings of power, not only for the young.

Ambivalent Childhoods is a forward-thinking and intersectional analysis of how childhood affects activism, national belonging, and the violence directed against queer, trans, and racialized people.

Ambivalent Childhoods

Jacob Breslow is assistant professor of gender and sexuality at the London School of Economics.


Ambivalent Childhoods

Contents


Introduction: The Wish for Childhood


1. Disavowing Black Childhood: Trayvon Martin, Adolescent Citizenship, and Anti-Blackness


2. Transphobia as Projection: Trans Childhoods and the Psychic Brutality of Gender


3. Desiring the Child: Queerness, Motherhood, and the Analyst


4. Undocumented Dream-Work: Intergenerational Migrant Aesthetics and the Parricidal Violence of the Border


Afterword: Ambivalence and Loss


Acknowledgments


Notes


Bibliography


Index