In this issue of Anglistica AION, we investigate the idea of “mess,” at once physically tangible and intellectually slippery, in global and transnational cultural productions and social practices. Thus, we envision “mess” as piles of seemingly unorganized materials, unsanitized spaces, dirty interstices that refuse to be cleaned and systematized. We are particularly fascinated by its potential impact on the study of what J. E. Muñoz broadly defined as “minoritarian subjects”: in fact, resistance to “normalcy” and the challenge to sanctioned symbolic “order” have been at the heart of late 20th century queer, ethnic, gendered, indigenous, and other identitarian studies. In addition, the notion of mess, messing-up, mash-ups, and morphing, both as theme and as cultural practice, may signal a productive gesture that rejects hierarchical organizing and linear/causal relations of value, thriving instead in simultaneity and precariousness, in overlapping and contested spaces and conflictual, even irreconcilable, dis/identifications. Far from advocating for a romanticized approach to “mess”, or for a flattening of the concept onto a negative view that sees it merely as a lack of clarity, order, or organization, we encourage investigations that explore both the aesthetics and the politics of mess, in a critical attempt to make sense of it.

Published: 2021-11-19

Full Issue