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José Esteban Muñoz gives keynote lecture at Duke’s 2013 Feminist Theory Workshop in May (image via Youtube)

José Esteban Muñoz, a scholar in the field of queer politics and aesthetics and professor at New York University’s Tisch School, has passed away, according to a notice on the University of Minnesota Press website and confirmed to Hyperallergic by his department at NYU. His first book, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, remains an influential text; in addition to his focus on queer performance, Muñoz has written extensively on visual art and aesthetics.

Born in Cuba in 1967, Muñoz immigrated to the United States with his parents shortly thereafter and went on to earn his doctorate in comparative literature at Duke University under Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Professor Barbara Browning, a colleague and friend of his at NYU, provided the following statement to Hyperallergic:

José did so many beautiful things, he was so good at seeing beauty. He loved his work and his students more than anyone I’ve ever known. Today we begin the task of making work and nurturing work that will honor him for the rest of our lives. We should do it with all the pleasure and utopianism that he taught us.

Update, 12/5: A source close to Muñoz has noted that the cause of death appears to have been heart failure; we will update as more details become available. A memorial gathering will take place tomorrow from 2 to 5pm at NYU’s Department of Performance Studies (721 Broadway, 6th Floor).

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.

7 replies on “Queer Theorist José Esteban Muñoz Dead at 46 [UPDATED]”

    1. Sophia, I love your language, I really do. I was an idealist like you when I was at the University of Virginia over 30 years ago and in a weird way I wish I were still one. But actually now I am a realist who went from being a true atheist to a hard core Christian, which for me it means that anybody can choose to be whatever they want to be and I will respect their choice and love them no matter what they do and never, but never try in any way, to force them to believe what I believe or try to force them to live in any way, how I think or believe it is best to live. And if anyone knowing what I believe and think is true and the truth but they don’t and yet would be my friend, I would gladly be theirs. As a matter of fact, I actually do have many friends who in no way believe what I believe or think the way I do about religion and politics. I am retired and 70 years old and wish you true happiness and joy

  1. 🙁 Very sad to hear this today. He contributed so much to queer theory and the queer community, among others.

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