Black queer lives often exist outside conventional civic institutions and therefore have to 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 18 months of immersive ethnographic fieldwork for his innovative cross-disciplinary analysis of contemporary debates in political and cultural theory.
Van Doorn describes the way that 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 they cannot give up on—even though it has in many ways given up on them.