Joshua Chambers-Letson is Professor of Performance Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, researching and teaching course in performance theory and contemporary art criticism, Asian American cultural production, legal and political theory, and queer of color critique. At work on a book about queer love and loss, art, and grief, JCL’s most recent monograph, After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life (NYU Press, 2018) studies contemporary art and performance by queers and women of color who mobilize aesthetics to survive, thrive, and mourn within the annihilating conditions produced by the overlapping forces of racial capitalism, Euro-US colonialism, white supremacy, and cis-heteropatriarchy. Focusing on the lives and work of Nina Simone, Félix González-Torres, Danh Võ, Eiko Otake, and Tseng Kwong Chi, After the Party was the 2019 winner of both the Association of Theatre in Higher Education’s Outstanding Book Award for best book in theatre and performance studies and the Eroll Hill Award for best book in black theatre and performance studies from the American Society for Theatre Research. JCL’s first monograph A Race So Different: Law and Performance in Asian America (NYU Press, 2014) argues that law influences racial formation by compelling Asian Americans to embody and perform recognizable racial identities in both popular aesthetic forms (from theatre and opera to rock music), before attending to the way Asian American artists and activists have used performance, theatre, and art to contest and disrupt the forces and effects of racialization. A Race So Different won the 2014 Outstanding Book Award from ATHE. With Tavia Nyong’o, Chambers-Letson is the co-editor of José Esteban Muñoz’s posthumous The Sense of Brown (Duke University Press, 2020) and with Christine Mok he is co-editor of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s China Triology: Three Parables of Global Capital (Metheun Drama, 2022). JCL serves as a performance editor for ASAP, on the editorial board of women & performance, as a series co-editor for the Sexual Cultures series at NYU Press (with Nyong’o and Ann Pellegrini), and is the 2022-2023 Thinker-In-Residence with the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation.
Chambers-Letson received a PhD in Performance Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2009, held a postdoctoral fellowship at Wesleyan University’s Center for the Humanities, and was most recently a Presidential Fellow at Yale University for the 2021-2022 academic year.
PhD, Performance Studies, New York University
MA, Performance Studies, New York University
BA, Liberal Arts, Eugene Lang College of the New School
Access a selection of publications here, including:
After the Party:A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life. NY: New York University Press, 2018
A Race So Different: Law and Performance in Asian America.NY: New York University Press, 2013
Co-edited with Tavia Nyong’o, The Sense of Brown by José Esteban Muñoz. Durham: Duke University Press, 2020.
“The Body is Never Given nor Do We Actually See It” in Race and Performance after Repetition, Ed. Soyica Diggs Colbert, Douglas A. Jones Jr., and Shane Vogel, Durham, NC: Duke University press, 2020: 270-291
Co-authored with Ann Pellegrini and Tavia Nyong’o, “Forward: Before and After” in Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity 10th Anniversary Edition by José Esteban Muñoz, NY: New York University Press, 2019: 9-16
“Twelve Notes on Ferguson: Black Performance and Police Power” in Law and Performance, Ed. Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merrill Umphrey. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2018:207-237
“The Queer of Color’s Mother: Ryan Rivera, Audre Lorde, Martin Wong, Danh Vō” TDR: The Drama Review. (62: 1, T237, Spring: 46-59) 2018
“Withdrawal” in Tehching Hsieh: Doing Time, ed. Adrian Heathfield. (Venice, IT: La Biennale de Venice) 2017: 36-44
“Contracting Justice: The Viral Strategy of Felix Gonzalez-Torres” in Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts.(Vol 51, 4: 559-587) 2010
PERF-ST 515: Asian American Aesthetics and Performance
PERF-ST 515: Marxism and Performance
PERF-ST 515: The Archive and the Body
PERF-ST 515: Staging Sovereignty, Performing Power
PERF-ST 515: Performing Racial Exception
PERF-ST 330: Censorship and the Culture Wars
PERF-ST 216: Performance and Culture