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DECOLONIZE DRAG

The global popularity of TV reality competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, going into its twelfth season in 2020, is an unprecedented queer phenomenon that has spawned spinoffs in Thailand, Mexico, Chile, Canada, and the UK. As drag enters the mainstream through a particularly fabulous, feminine, commercial, and mediatized format, various forms of gender-based performance fall out of the purview of what we (could) call drag. A range of critical performance practices that mimic, play with, and reinvent gender—all part of the project of drag—become outdated as drag concretizes into archetypes offered by Drag Race and its counterparts. While drag is often rhetoricized as a subversion of gender norms, it has also been bound to projects of securing normativity and power, pre- and post-Drag Race. Decolonize Drag! explores a range of performance practices that purposefully engage gender to understand how drag colludes with, reinforces, elides, resists, and laughs at colonial projects. It centers drag as a performance practice, a form of work and leisure, by those on the margins of gender and sexual normativity. However, at various moments the book also shows how gender nonconformity is employed by straight white men to secure colonial power.