Benjamin H. Abbott
- Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Benjamin H. Abbott is a queer nonbinary anarchist who recently completed their PhD in American Studies at the University of New Mexico and now teaches courses such as Feminist Theories and Transgender Studies. Their interest in radical politics and the humanities began with reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States as a teenager. Learning about the Plan de San Diego uprising as undergraduate student convinced them to pursue an MA in History at UNM. In that department, Benjamin developed a focus on the international anarchist movement in the era of Mexican Revolution, particularly the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM). Their dissertation project came to center on the resonances between classical anarchism and classical eugenics, with attention to how the eugenicist mentality and ableism continue to permeate radical movements and society in general.
That dissertation, “Health and Revolution: Anarchist Biopolitics in the Borderlands,” examines classical anarchist discourse on gender, race, and sexuality via the lenses of disability justice, reproductive justice, and queer Indigenous feminism. It argues that eugenics was key to how anarchists in the PLM and their comrades conceived of political collectivity. Popular notions of scarcity and survival of the fittest, imbued with scientific authority, structured thought at the time. Anarchists, like other anticapitalist radicals, advocated for their cause within this framework, frequently asserting how revolution would lead to a stronger society and denigrating those imagined as weak. The analysis attends especially to the contrast between how PLM writers valorized Native peoples as vigorous members of the working class and inspiring figures of resistance in Mexico while characterizing queerness as degenerate bourgeois decadence. In conclusion, the project points to utopian dreams of a world where all can thrive as a possible path through the tensions and contradictions. Communist principles and disability justice light the way.