Joshua Chambers-Letson is a writer and performance theorist who researches and teaches courses in performance studies, critical race theory, and queer of color critique. His books and essays place performance studies in conversation with a diverse set of fields including black studies, Asian American studies, art history, and critical theory to theorize the role performance plays in the making and remaking of worlds for Black, brown, Asian, queer, and trans ways of being and becoming. In his most recent book, After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life (NYU Press, 2018), Chambers-Letson tells the stories of queer and femme of color artists (Nina Simone, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Danh Võ, Felix González-Torres, Eiko, and Tseng Kwong Chi) who mobilize performance in the service of emancipation and survival, using performance to keep their dead alive, and with them, in the struggle to survive an increasingly precarious present. In A Race So Different: Law and Performance in Asian American (NYU Press, 2013), he argues that the law influences racial formation by compelling Asian Americans to embody and perform recognizable identities in both popular aesthetic forms (such as theater, opera, or rock music) and in the rituals of everyday life. He is currently at work on two (provisionally titled) book projects: Object Relations, a study of relationality, race, and repair in the scene of contemporary performance art and, Take My Breath Away, a meditation on sex, death, and the aesthetics of queer love and loss.
With Tavia Nyong’o he is the co-editor of José Esteban Muñoz’s The Sense of Brown (Duke University Press, 2020). Twice a winner of the Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education in 2019 and 2014 for After the Party and A Race So Different, he is also the recipient of the 2019 Errol Hill Award from the American Society for Theatre Research. His cademic writing has appeared in edited volumes and journals including Social Text, Political Theory, Criticism, Cultural Studies, MELUS, and women & performance. Art writing has appeared in catalogues for Teching Hsieh’s exhibition at the 2017 Venice Bienale and the Chrysler Museum/Grey Art Gallery’s Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera, as well as Dirty Looks, The Brooklyn Rail, ASAP/J, and the Walker Reader. With Ann Pellegrini and Tavia Nyong’o he is a series co-editor of the Sexual Cultures series at NYU Press. He received his PhD from New York University in 2009 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Wesleyan University’s Center for the Humanities from 2009-2010.