Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Queer Futurity and Hybridity in "Arrival" and "Embrace of the Serpent" Public Deposited

  • This thesis explores how the queered, racialized, and Othered groups in the films Arrival and Embrace of the Serpent are seen by hegemonic culture as an infection. Their infection is established through the preventative actions used by hegemonic culture which differ in each film and include anything from inoculations to forced assimilation. Despite preventative actions, members of hegemonic culture who venture into the Other’s environment can still become sick due to contact and must embrace the cultural practices of the Other in order to survive, suggesting that queerness is incompatible with normativity. Utilizing queer analytics such as opacity, temporal mis-orientations, and dreams, this thesis examines the circular logic of how the queerness of the Other’s environment is tied to what constructs them as queer. As such, members of hegemonic culture must embrace queer cultural practices in order to survive in these queer environments. In Arrival this means learning the Heptapods language and non-normative temporality, while in Embrace of the Serpent this means understanding Indigenous, land-based cultural practices. Some become hybrids between queer and hegemonic culture, while others become infected by the Other and do not survive. At the end of both films the queer Other disappears, leaving the hybrid behind with the knowledge necessary to preserve the Other’s culture. This thesis poses questions about queer futurity, or ability of queer populations to survive, and whether or not the queer Other has a future, looking closely at the queer, racialized Other. Drawing on the work of Jose Esteban Muñoz, I argue that the Heptapods in Arrival and the Indigenous people in Embrace of the Serpent reflect Muñozian understandings of queer futures as being ephemeral, especially because the components that mark the queered groups as illegible coexist with their choice to leave their cultural knowledge behind before they disappear.
Date Awarded
  • 2019-01-01
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2020-01-06
Resource Type
Rights Statement