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Tacit Subjects: Belonging and Same-Sex Desire among Dominican Immigrant Men [Kindle Edition]

Carlos Ulises Decena

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Book Description

Tacit Subjects is a pioneering analysis of how gay immigrant men of color negotiate race, sexuality, and power in their daily lives. Drawing on ethnographic research with Dominicans in New York City, Carlos Ulises Decena explains that while the men who shared their life stories with him may self-identify as gay, they are not the liberated figures of traditional gay migration narratives. Decena contends that in migrating to Washington Heights, a Dominican enclave in New York, these men moved from one site to another within an increasingly transnational Dominican society. Many of them migrated and survived through the resources of their families and broader communities. Explicit acknowledgment or discussion of their homosexuality might rupture these crucial social and familial bonds. Yet some of Decena’s informants were sure that their sexuality was tacitly understood by their family members or others close to them. Analyzing their recollections about migration, settlement, masculinity, sex, and return trips to the Dominican Republic, Decena describes how the men at the center of Tacit Subjects contest, reproduce, and reformulate Dominican identity in New York. Their stories reveal how differences in class, race, and education shape their relations with fellow Dominicans. They also offer a view of “gay New York” that foregrounds the struggles for respect, belonging, and survival within a particular immigrant community.

Editorial Reviews


Tacit Subjects is a joy to read, an important piece of ethnographic scholarship, and a crucial node for a more enlightened and progressive understanding of queer lives lived on the edges of nations, histories, and cultures. Carlos Ulises Decena meticulously engages with, departs from, energizes, and reframes recent LBGTQ scholarship. He exhorts us to consider alternative modes of queer habitations ensconced in histories of racialized migration, colonial occupations, poverty, dictatorship, and humdrum existence in late-capitalist America.” —Martin Manalansan IV, author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora

“Without a doubt, Tacit Subjects is the most intelligent and coherent book on Latino homosexuality (and homosociality) that I have read in a very long time. It is a corrective to many readings of the Latina/o dynamic around disclosure, as well as the imperative of revelation that seems to mark most of the work in Anglo-American LGBTQ studies. It is a trenchant and powerful call for us to listen carefully to what others say and understand how their wisdom can teach us to abandon our preconceived notions of normativity.”—José Quiroga, author of Tropics of Desire: Interventions from Queer Latino America

“[T]his book provides a compelling look at the lives of samesex loving Dominican immigrant men. It is a powerful piece of work, which will be of
great interest to those in the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, sexuality/queer studies, globalisation and public health.”
(Ian W. Holloway Culture, Health, and Sexuality)

“Overall, Tacit Subjects develops new theoretical terrains in sexuality, masculinity, and migration studies through its deep and personal engagement with the complex lives of a group of Dominican immigrant men living in New York City. It will therefore appeal to scholars across a range of disciplines, and I for one will be using it in my gender and sexuality courses as part of a sophisticated suite of texts exploring the movement, organization, and transformation of sexual desires and identities within and across Dominican borders.”
(David A. B. Murray GLQ)

“There is much packed into this worthwhile book. Its achievements are many, among them the rare capacity of a scholarly book to intertwine complex theorization with the kind of vibrant ethnographic storytelling that this text captures. . . . [R]eaders across the social sciences and humanities, will find this an intriguing, elucidatory and captivating read. It is an important contribution to the multiple, intersecting fields of anthropology, gender studies, masculinity studies, queer studies, Latin American and Caribbean studies and sociology, among others.”
(Diana J. Fox A Contracorriente)

“A thoughtful discussion of the connections among linguistic practice, masculinity, and sexual sameness in the Santo Dominican diaspora. . . . Tacit Subjects shows why studies of the Dominican diaspora must pay attention to discursive practices. More than that, Decena’s work challenges the rest of us to mobilize narrative data in ways that give ethnographic subjects in any location adequate spaces to speak for themselves.” 
(William L. Leap American Ethnologist)

“This is an absorbing and challenging examination of homoracial transnational erotics. It is a very careful and layered autoethnography cum-
participant observation and life history interview study of 25 Dominican immigrant men in New York City.... As such, this volume presents a nuanced
disarticulation of dominicanidad (Dominican identity) with telling comments as to the nature of transnational desires and relations, and pointed conclusions as to the complex construction and performance of identity in general.... This book not only adds a tacit and homosexual dimension to migrant studies, but it is also an invaluable corrective to the often static portrayal of migrant identity.”
(Jonathan Skinner Social Anthropology)

“His theoretical constructs always seem appropriate to the data he has gathered. He introduces and elaborates them in ways that illuminate the data while simultaneously emerging from the data...rarely have I seen the movement among culture, material circumstances, politics, and political identity so well and so thoroughly accomplished as in Decena’s beautifully written book.” 
(Michael Hames-Garcia American Anthropologist)

“Decena unpacks the meanings behind the boundaries and links created by those in his study, focusing on their perceptions of other Dominicans in relation to their own positions as marginal, working-class, immigrant people attempting to advance based on a social status hierarchy in a host country. Tacit Subjects is clearly a must read for any scholar interested in race, class, sexualities and migration.”
(Katie L. Acosta Contemporary Sociology)

About the Author

Carlos Ulises Decena is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, and Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Product Details

  • File Size: 726 KB
  • Print Length: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (March 16, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052WDJO0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,517 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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