Analysis Of David Valentine's Imagining Transgender

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It is the subscript of David Valentine’s Imagining Transgender – an ethnography of a category that clues in readers to the important fascinating turn his work takes across its three hundred some odd pages. Unlike other academic works up through the time of its publication (2007) which have tended to align a particular transgender experience with queer-studies (Feinberg 1997, Wilchins 2004), autobiographical/ “insider” narratives (Boylan 2003/2013; Bornstein 1993), or social service primers (Lev 2004), Valentine’s research instead interrogates the disciplinary/State construction of the transgender identity itself. By comparing such bounded epistemology against the often contradictory personal definitions of those trans*-community members …show more content…
From this point that institutions rely too heavily on codified identities, leading them to re-identify populations in ways that counter individual’s meanings (124), all informed by a “politics of accommodation” that informs a “theoretical split…(that is) problematic in that they are unable to account for…(trans) subjectivities” (CITE). Valentine picks up this tension is the crafting of his own ethnography, an ‘impulse to open up transgender for both theoretical and political purposes, and the recognition that in some cases, the work of many of my activist informants aims to do just the opposite” …show more content…
When disciplines concretize categorical boundaries to the chokepoint where said categories no longer accurately describe the population they seek to define, a real danger arises for scholars, social services and especially those that both seek to describe and help. Yet there is opportunity here as well. By arguing against the potentially catastrophic rigidity of categories that disciplines seem to demand (and that ethnographies can potentially break down [246-253]) Imagining Transgender invites its readers (researchers and educators and activists and transgender individuals all) to consider a number of provocative suggestions: That ethnographers need not think of themselves as beholden to the potential shackling dogmas of their disciplines, that indeed such myopic visions tend to miss the details of larger systems and worldviews; and that, ultimately, transgender can be more than just an institutional category but rather a prescient analysis through which “all modern subjects are engaged in this same process of disaggregation, reintegration, refinement, and education of the self”

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