Civic Intimacies

Black Queer Improvisations on Citizenship

Niels van Doorn
Book Cover

PB: $39.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1843-2
Publication: Jun 19

HC: $104.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1842-5
Publication: Jun 19

Ebook: $39.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1844-9
Publication: Jun 19

262 pages
6 x 9

Mapping the political and personal stakes of Black queer lives in Baltimore

Read Chapter 1 (pdf).


Because members of the Black queer community often exist outside conventional civic institutions, they must explore alternative intimacies to experience a sense of belonging. Civic Intimacies examines how—and to what extent—these different forms of intimacy catalyze the values, aspirations, and collective flourishing of Black queer denizens of Baltimore. Niels van Doorn draws on eighteen months of immersive ethnographic fieldwork for his innovative cross-disciplinary analysis of contemporary debates in political and cultural theory.

Van Doorn describes how members of these systematically marginalized communities improvise on citizenship not just to survive but also to thrive, despite the proliferation of violence and insecurity in their lives. By reimagining citizenship as the everyday reparative work of building support structures, Civic Intimacies highlights the extent to which sex, kinship, memory, religious faith, and sexual health are rooted in collective practices that are deeply political. These systems sustain the lives of Black queer Baltimoreans who find themselves stuck in a city that they cannot give up on—even though in many ways it has given up on them.

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

1. Citizenship and Its Outside
2. Ambiguity City
3. Capture, Containment, Composition
4. Forces of Faith
5. Pleasure, Violence, and the Past’s Presence
6. Support Structures: On Negativity and Reparativity


About the Author(s)

Niels van Doorn, a former postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, is an Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam.


In the Series

  • Insubordinate Spaces edited by George Lipsitz

    The Insubordinate Spaces series, edited by George Lipsitz, is a home for books that resist and rethink the increasingly outsized power market forces wield over public and private life and over the rules and assumptions of scholarly investigation and discourse. The series seeks to explore the origins and evolution of these contemporary and historical subordinating institutions and practices, as well as emergent insubordinate social spaces and institutions crafted to resist market imperatives and provide alternatives to them in the form of new publics, new polities, and new politics.