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).