Antigone in the Americas

Democracy, Sexuality, and Death in the Settler Colonial Present

By Andrés Fabián Henao Castro

Subjects: Political Theory, Latin American Studies, Queer Studies, Women's Studies, Indigenous Studies
Series: SUNY series in Gender Theory
Hardcover : 9781438484273, 290 pages, July 2021
Paperback : 9781438484280, 290 pages, January 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Slaves, Metics, Citizens
The Ancient Drama of Political Membership: Slavery, Metoikia, and Citizenship in Sophocles's Antigone
The Modern/Colonial Drama of Political Membership, SettlerColonial Capitalism, and the Slave–Metic–Citizen Triad
Redefining the Political Through Its Subtending Racialized Logic of Valuation
From Antigone in the Americas to the Americas in Antigone
From Classicization to Decolonial Rumination
Chapter Overview

1. Antigone in Colonial Antiquity: A Critique of Democratic Theory in Ancient Athens
The Democratic Disavowal of Slavery and Metoikia
Tragedy's Misinterpellated Anarchy
Toward a Political Antigone
What If Antigone Was a Metic?
What If Polyneices Was a Slave?

2. Antigone in Colonial Modernity: A Critique of Feminist and Queer Theory in North America
Slavery, Metoikia, and Citizenship in Colonial Modernity
From the Queer Equivocality of Kinship Positions to the Racial Equivocality of Social Positions
Whose Ethical Act of Sublimation?
Tiresias's Gender Complementarity and the Fungibilitycum Fugitivity of Black Transness
Whose Future?
Fear of a Quare and TwoSpirit Planet

3. Antigone in Colonial Postmodernity: A Critique of Biopolitics in Latin America
Slavery, Metoikia, and Citizenship in Colonial Postmodernity
A Modern Biopolitical Antigone in Europe
Postmodern Necropolitical Antigones in Latin America
From Modern Melodrama to Postmodern Decolonial Cacophonies

4. Antigone in the Settler‑Colonial Present of the Racial Capitalocene: A Critique of Deconstruction in the Americas
Antigone in the Age of the Racial Capitalocene
The Racialized Burial and the Human Border
A Specter Is Haunting the Americas
Decolonial Mourning at the Level of WorldHistorical Events
Black and Indigenous Wakeful Mo'nin

Conclusion: What Is There Instead of Being Born?

Name Index
Subject Index

Argues for a decolonial reinterpretation of Sophocles’ classical tragedy, Antigone, that can help us to rethink the anti-colonial politics of militant mourning in the Americas.


Sophocles's classical tragedy, Antigone, is continually reinvented, particularly in the Americas. Theater practitioners and political theorists alike revisit the story to hold states accountable for their democratic exclusions, as Antigone did in disobeying the edict of her uncle, Creon, for refusing to bury her brother, Polynices. Antigone in the Americas not only analyzes the theoretical reception of Antigone, when resituated in the Americas, but further introduces decolonial rumination as a new interpretive methodology through which to approach classical texts. Traveling between modern present and ancient past, Andrés Fabián Henao Castro focuses on metics (resident aliens) and slaves, rather than citizens, making the feminist politics of burial long associated with Antigone relevant for theorizing militant forms of mourning in the global south. Grounded in settler colonial critique, black and woman of color feminisms, and queer and trans of color critique, Antigone in the Americas offers a more radical interpretation of Antigone, one relevant to subjects situated under multiple and interlocking systems of oppression.

Andrés Fabián Henao Castro is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston.