You may also download a PDF of the full workshop program.
1. Queer Space and World Making
Chair: Michael Connors Jackman (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Humboldt University of Berlin
Mobilizing Solidarity and Intimacy: European Networks of Trans* and Non-Binary Community Care
In my queer multi-sided ethnographic PhD project I focus on collective self- and community-care practices outside of the medical sector that are organized by trans* and non-binary activists in Germany, Switzerland and beyond. Collective trans* community care spaces have been developed by trans* activist as an answer to pathologizing, individualizing and normative spaces of medical trans care (Spade 2011). By following and participating in practices of community care that emerge online and offline and through interviews with trans* activists, I trace how related practices challenge, re_produce, and contradict norms of health, trans* subjectivity and care work at the same times. In my paper I would like to discuss how trans* community care practice move beyond identity politics and mobilize solidarity and intimacy across borders. I will also reflect on challenges and limitations and sketch out how an intersectional perspective enables accounting for or complicating varied experiences of trans* (self-)care and community care.
Queer Diasporas in Japan: A Case Study of the 2017 Dyke Weekend
Dyke Weekend is an annual refuge for women who love women started in 1985. A staple event of 1980s Japanese lesbian activism, it has persevered throughout multiple cycles of Japan’s evolving LGBTQ culture. Though originally an event catering to Japanese cisgender lesbians, it has undergone multiple transformations over the decades in both size and scope of its participants. The 2017 event was organized by a mixed-nationality group, and its participants were eclectic, including trans, cis, and intersex women of multiple nationalities and age groups. Though Japan is currently witnessing a backlash effect against foreign interference in its national queer discourse, and foreigners typically have limited access to Japanese queer resources and events, Dyke Weekend stands out as a transnational and inclusive event for foreign lesbians. This presentation concerns transnational exchange among the women at the Dyke Weekend, as well as the level of community integration and acculturation of its foreign participants, compared to foreign participants at the Tokyo Pride, and to online LGBTQ community members. The information was gathered via a survey among Dyke Weekend participants, Tokyo Pride participants, and online LGBT community members, as well via participant observation techniques.
Richard Karl Deang
Central European University
Queer Migrations and the Masculinity of Modernity: Filipino Gay Pageants in the Diaspora
Pageants are a national preoccupation in the Philippines. International pageants are especially taken seriously as opportunities for the insecure postcolonial nation to “make it” in the big scene. Local “Miss Gay” pageants have historically dominated the scene, but they have been challenged in recent years by the growing popularity of “Mr. Gay” pageants in metropolitan centers like Manila. Unlike their “older” and “provincial” effeminate sisters, the distinctly masculine contestants of Mr. Gay pageants supposedly have a more international outlook, since winners of the national pageant represent the country in international pageants, even if Filipino “Miss Gay” pageants have also transformed into international transgender pageants. The friction between these three types of pageants bespeaks the complex bifurcation of bakla, an “indigenous” identity category in the Philippines, into two “modern” identities: gay and transgender. This presentation deals with an ethnographic project about Filipino gay men living in Paris who organize and join both gender-transitive and gender-intransitive pageants. My research is a biopolitical update of Bobby Benedicto’s postcolonial critique of the abjection of the bakla amid Filipino gay men’s aspirations of modernity and globalness (Under Bright Lights, 2013). More than providing occasions for social gathering to the local Filipino community, these pageants capitalize on a biomedicalized performance of the body through biotechnologies like anabolic bodybuilding steroids, skin whitening products, hormone replacement therapy, and sex reassignment surgery. Following Benedicto, I argue that the bakla is abjected as a revenant figure of a non-scientific premodernity that the biomedicalized gay and transgender ine ectually undertake to supersede. My main interest here is in the convergence of geographic and conceptual mobilities: what happens to queers and their understandings of their bodies when they travel from the “still” premodern postcolony to Europe, the center of scientific and biomedical modernity?
Rise and Resist: Queer World-making in St-Petersburg, Russia
In June 2013, President Vladimir Putin signed off on a nationwide legislation banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors in Russia. This law was the culmination of several legislative dra s, multiple regional bans, and a final vote of 436 to 0 with only one abstention. The ramifications of this ban have been that it has become incredibly difficult for any kind of pro-queer outreach, awareness raising, and events to occur. In other words, this law controls what information is readily available to Russians. My current doctorate work seeks to explore (counter)publics, what I see as spaces of knowledge, discourses, practices, and queer world-making that are both collective and accessible. Through these legislative restrictions, official authorities, state and religious, are reinforcing notions of tradition – traditional family, traditional sex, traditional gender roles, thus further enabling heteronormative conventions which hinder and render invisible the building and acceptance of non- normative public sexual cultures.
2. Mobilizing emotions: feminist methodologies in transnational scholarship (Roundtable)
Chair: Heather Tucker (Central European University)
Central European University
‘Sensing’ the Silence: The Codependence of Silence and the Senses in Feminist Ethnographic Methodology
Central European University
Mobility, Vulnerability, and Positionality: Exploring Queer Ethnography in Ghana
Central European University
Humor as a Method in Feminist Transnational Research
Central European University
Queer Necropolitics and Mobility: An Oral History of Trans Women’s Deaths in Turkey
Feminist theorist Sara Ahmed has asked the question, “what do emotions do?” or rather, what is the hierarchy within the emotion/thought dichotomy? Furthermore, feminist stand point theory has focused on a deconstruction of epistemology, acknowledging and holding central the politics of knowledge production within science, with the aim of producing different perspectives for knowing, and opening up anthropology for feminist standpoint theory’s “personal is political” perspective (Crenshaw 1991; Harding 1986; Haraway 1988). The U.S. based feminist movement’s “personal is political” and native anthropology have “changed the way scholars in a wide range of disciplines think about the subject and subjectivity of their work” (Barar 28: 1996). In speaking of anthropological methods, anthropologist Ruth Barar suggests, “transcending the boundaries between the self and other” (Barar 28: 1996), while more recent literature on queer methodologies highlight the value in destabilizing the subject and blurring the lines between the researcher and the researched (Browne and Nash 2010; Boellstorff 2010).
This panel seeks to engage with the ways in which feminist methodologies within ethnography open up the possibility to engage with the complexities of mobility, both through the standpoint of the researched and the researcher. This panel will explore the following questions:
- How does mobility construct our relationship to vulnerability?
- How is mobility racialized and or classed in our work?
- How does a mobile positionality of researchers’ construct or deconstruct relationships with those whom are researched?
- How do feminist ethnographic methodological concepts such as vulnerability, affect, emotions, and feelings of the researcher lend us new tools for the production of knowledge?
- What are the ways in which feminist ethnographic methods inform queer methods? In what way are they informing each other?
Chair: Hadley Renkin (Central European University)
University of Houston
Sarah French Brennan
Between Homonationalism and Islamophobia: Comparing Queer Asylum-Seeking to the Netherlands from the Caribbean Versus the Muslim World
Queer refugees and asylum-seekers occupy an increasingly tense intersection in the Netherlands as the institutional mechanisms and ideological ramparts of Fortress Europe continue to consolidate. More than ever, the Dutch national imagination embraces an idealized vision of enlightened progressivism, especially regarding sexuality and gender. However, like its European neighbors, the Netherlands is in the midst of a paradigmatic transformation that intensifies processes of illegalization and detention, accompanied by upregulated deportation, while voices of the far-right decry the cultural and demographic threat of migrants in general, and refugees in particular. What are the changing politics and boundaries of Dutch (homo)nationalism and how do queer asylum-seekers navigate the changing contradictions and dilemmas of seeking refuge based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Netherlands? Indeed, they must navigate a complex web of bureaucratic institutions, legal technicalities and power relations that is itself a changing matrix rife with contradictions and uncertainty.
The gap between the lived experience of asylum-seekers during their detention and legal process, which commonly leads to deportation, and the fiercely touted ideals of human rights – including within Dutch and European asylum law itself – is in urgent need of interrogation and theorization. As ethnographers, we seek to map the changing terrain of queer and transgender asylum-seeking in the Netherlands through controlled comparison considering refugees from the Caribbean (McNeal) as compared with those hailing from Muslim-majority countries around the world (Brennan). Pursuing this comparative analysis based on life histories collected in the Netherlands from queer refugees and asylum-seekers stemming from very different parts of the world allows for a more trenchant analysis of the sexual politics of asylum in contemporary Europe, as well as enables us to pursue questions relating to the changing political economy of (im)mobility and politics of sexual citizenship in late capitalism.
Judit Takács, Tamás PTóth, and Adrienne Csizmady
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Where do Hungarian LGBTQ+ people migrate (and why)?
The main goal of our study is to examine the internal and external migration potential of Hungarian LGBTQ+ people, which may be higher than that of the general population for several reasons. These include experiences of discrimination, prejudice and rejection by one’s own family of origin, which is rarely experienced by people belonging to ethnic or other social minority groups. Regarding internal migration, Budapest, the capital city of Hungary with nearly two million inhabitants and a relatively well developed urban LGBTQ+ infrastructure seems to act as a “single gay magnet”. At the same time, an increasing number of young(er) LGBTQ+ people choose to leave Hungary for North-West European and other western countries. There is a general assumption that in comparison to smaller rural settlements, living in more urbanized, larger settlements might lead to more open-minded views toward LGBTQ+ people. However, according to large-scale survey data collected in 26 European societies, large city dwellers expressed the lowest level of acceptance towards gays and lesbians . This result might be interpreted as a reaction to the concentration of LGBTQ+ populations in larger European cities, characterized by less direct social control and an increasing visibility of especially the gay male subculture in larger Western cities since the 1970s.
The empirical base of our study includes large-scale European survey data (ESS, EVS) as well as semi-structured interviews and focus groups conducted with Hungarian LGBTQ+ people with migration plans and experiences. In our presentation we will first focus on the potential reasons that can make LGBTQ+ people migrate, including homophobic and genderphobic social attitudes as well as heteronormative social policies; then we will voice our interviewees regarding their migration plans and experiences of migrating within Hungary and/or out of Hungary.
Humboldt University of Berlin
Moving to the Right: Gay-Friendliness in Western European Far-Right Parties
The trope of finding “community” in the big city is constitutive of modern gay and lesbian identities: Mobility is a central element in the “sexual imaginary” of LGBTQ people (Weston 1998). However, “community” is not and has never been a self-consistent space. It has become a truism in both activism and scholarship that “community” is contested, haunted by the differences among queers. Thus, queer mobility is not only a geographical idea; it is also social, cultural, historical, and political mobility. For instance, with the upward social and cultural mobility of certain queers, namely “respectable”white gay men, came the increasing inclusion of homosexuality in the national “community.” For some, then, mobility has meant a political move to the right. While it is certainly true that being queer has never determined a person’s political a iliations, it is a relatively new phenomenon that far-right parties in Europe openly portray themselves as gay-friendly. To some, this form of “queer mobility” has been a disturbing development. In my contribution, I want to show how tolerance of homosexuals is discussed, discursively justified, and integrated into nationalist self-images by the Western European far right. I am going to present some results from ethnographic fieldwork that I conduct in the German far-right party Alternative für Deutschland. Thinking with the idea of mobility will help to illuminate the relations between different actors, concepts, and policies: How is the political mobility of some European queers to the right related to the “stoppage” of migrants at the European borders? What does this tell us about the state of contemporary European nationalisms? And how can queerness, understood as a critical concept, be mobilised against the far right and its interpretation of “gay-friendliness”?
Erin L. Durban-Albrecht
Illinois State University
Imperialism and Transnational Sexual Politics: Homophobia and Homoprotectionis
This paper seeks to bridge the divide between contemporary transnational scholarship in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies that theorizes homophobias and homoprotectionism.1 Both of these bodies of scholarship seek to understand how racialized queer subjects come to understand, constitute, define, and organize themselves in postcolonial contexts, though they approach this topic through different lines of inquiry. The literature on “global homophobias” asks: what are different manifestations of social structures that oppose same-sex desire and sexuality? What are the transnational circuits of homophobia, or how has homophobia been globalized? What are strategic responses to homophobic social structures in various contexts worldwide? Literature on homoprotectionism or “queer (neo) liberalisms” asks: what happens when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) identity politics get exported “elsewhere”? What are the effects of social movements and state policies that elevate homophobia above other forms of violence or oppression as a locus of concern? How does this manifestation of pro-LGBTQI politics align with the imperatives of imperialism? The paper merges these lines of inquiry—and their underlying concerns—in a theory of postcolonial homophobia. Postcolonial homophobia signals the cumulative effects of historical and contemporary European and American imperialist interventions to discover, regulate, manage, control, govern, and/ or liberate (homo)sexuality and (trans)gender embodiments in postcolonial nations. This project is specifically concerned with the ways in which racialized imperialist discourses construct postcolonial nations as simultaneously too queer (premodern or resistant to modernity) and too homophobic (failing at modernity). These discourses respectively emerge from two transnational social movements: evangelical Christianity and global LGBTQI human rights. While these discourses seem to be at odds with one another, I argue that they in fact work together to promote American exceptionalism, bolstering the ideology that the United States and its European allies has the correct solutions for (gendered and sexualized) predicaments in postcolonial nations. In a case study of postcolonial homophobia in the Republic of Haiti, I demonstrate that the interplay of these imperialist discourses—rather than one in particular—produces negative material effects for postcolonial subjects, including those under the signs of LGBTQI. I provide detailed accounts of these effects, based on multi-sited ethnographic research in Haiti and its diaspora between 2008 and 2013 as well as archival research about European and American imperialism in Haiti. Queer Haitians’ lives are increasingly shaped by a kind of virulent religious homophobia, the roots of which can be traced back to the American occupation of Haiti (1915–1934) that generated interest in U.S. Protestant missionary work to thwart the practice of “voodoo” and its attendant social ills—including homosexuality, profligate heterosexuality, and “bad” child-rearing practices. Distilled from my five years of research, I document three moments when evangelical Christian homophobia spiked in Haiti and forms of verbal and physical assault against Haitians who identified as queer (or were perceived to be queer) became widespread: in 2008 when the soon-to-be prime minister was publically accused of being a lesbian, in 2010 when homosexual Haitians were scapegoated for the earthquake by supposedly making Haiti fall out of favor with God, and in 2013 when evangelical Christians staged large demonstrations against same-sex marriage in major metropolitan cities.
4. Queer (im)mobilities, queer (in)visibilities: case studies from East and South Africa
Chair: Eileen Moyer (University of Amsterdam)
University of Amsterdam
Queer activism in Kenya and beyond: media advocacy and the importance of transnational networks
In Kenya, where being queer is subject to social, cultural and legal limitations, advocacy through media is seen by international advocacy groups as a way to diffuse and popularize LGBTI rights as human rights, which is framed and funded by several European countries as a development issue.To fulfill this development mandate, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) collaborate with indigenous organizations, providing financial and technical support, with the aim of strengthening local queer activists’ abilities to communicate their lived realities locally and internationally. This paper examines the importance of transnational networks and contacts for the development of queer activism in Kenya, focusing on the way ideas move between Europe and Africa. I pay special attention to trends in international interventions and cooperation linked to the dissemination and promotion of local queer realities commonly referred to as media advocacy, questioning the effects of such forms of advocacy, both intentionally and unintentionally. Media advocacy via various campaigns and film productions, which are increasingly used to make visible the Kenyan queer community, are key to the facilitation of international encounters and for the creation of local and global actions. European cultural centers in Kenya openly host and screen queer related films to celebrate gay culture during the Out Festival event, but events generally take place in Nairobi city where foreign embassies are located to guarantee the safety and security of those attending. Although the films are said to be made for local consumption, most films are foreign, important Kenyan films are not screened, and attendance is mostly limited to the expat community, INGO sta and local queer elite. This paper, which builds on ongoing research on the ways LGBTI identities and advocacy in Kenya is positioned in relation to a wider global queer rights assemblage, will offer preliminary insights into this complex web, while also challenging presumed dichotomies such as West/non-West, Africa/Europe.
University of Amsterdam
Insta-Queers in Johannesburg, South Africa: The production of queer subbjectivities in social media
Queer subjectivity is intimately tied to the politics of public visibility and sexual citizenship. And visibility is, by and large, a matter of representation. The myriad ways in which queer subjects are represented within in mainstream media have been the subject of much scholarly analyses and debates. But what of our own styles of selfrepresentation? Different social networking platforms have provided a wide range of innovative opportunities for self-representation and self-branding amongst queer people across the globe. This paper analyzes the online self-representations of three figures who have each played a significant role in my ethnographic fieldwork on drag performance and beauty pageantry in Johannesburg. These performers are, namely, Zsa-Zsa, Muzi and Leeroy, who each enjoy prominence at Johannesburg’s longest running queer nightclub, Simply Blue. This paper will engage in a cross-cut media analysis of the Instagram and Facebook posts from each of these drag performers. Screen-shots from each performer’s Instagram and Facebook feeds will be thematically coded in order to undertake a critical qualitative discourse analysis. This paper analyzes the different online strategies of self-styling and self-branding undertaken by each of these self-described drag artists. I aim to tease out the different ways in which these subjects make their queer (drag) personas publicly known and visible within these online spaces. Borrowing from queer, critical feminist and post- feminist theories, I aim to argue that their online presences make significant contributions to LGBTQIA politics in contemporary South Africa. Moreover, I aim to argue that their online visibilities speak directly to the conceptual thematics of gender fluidity, sexual identity, cosmopolitanism, and neoliberal consumerism.
University of Amsterdam
“Let us just leave”: Mobility as a coping strategy among gay men in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania young men rarely leave their parents homes until they have saved enough money to cover rent and basics needs. It is not the same case among gay men however, as fear of violence, homophobia and the felt need to hide their sexual identities pushes them to leave home before they can a ord to do support themselves. Although Dar es Salaam is known for its high level of cultural tolerance, gay men in these spaces neither feel safe nor free to share their identities to their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. This paper will show how gay men in this Tanzanian coastal city use mobility at different levels to hide their sexual identities. It will also show how the pressure of having female sexual partners, getting married and having children force them to leave home and to move frequently. Data from an ethnographic study conducted among gay men in Dar es Salaam will bring into light how they leave home, rent new houses, quit jobs and cease frequenting areas once they suspect that their sexual identities have been or are about to become publicly known.
Emmy Kageha Igonya
University of Amsterdam
Queer wombs in Kenya: The extension of homophobia to mothers of gay men
This paper examines the extension of homophobia to mothers of gay men by their husbands, family members and wider society, as well as how these experiences influence relationships between mothers and their adult sons. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Mombasa and Nairobi, four in-depth case studies are employed to discuss mothers’ experiences of homophobic acts as directed toward them and their sons. Mothers in Kenya are often blamed for giving birth to, mothering and tolerating homosexual children, who are thought to be made rather than born. Mothers of homosexual men are rejected, isolated, divorced or sent away from their homes. Despised and scorned, mothers who continue to support their sons are also rejected by family, friends and the wider community, which makes them often economically and emotionally dependent on their gay sons. These case studies provide insight the ways that gendered norms related to mothering and providing shape the lives of queer men and their supportive mothers. Even as they are blamed for their son’s sexuality, some mothers continue to stand with their sons, citing maternal norms as explanation; their sons meanwhile conform to social masculinity norms and become breadwinners to reward their mothers for their faith.
5. Queering Border Logics
Chair: Linda Sólveigar Gudmundsdóttir (University of Iceland)
Linda Sólveigar Gudmundsdóttir
University of Iceland
Exclusionary moments: Same-sex sexualities and migrants sense of belonging
Migration to Iceland has increased considerably in recent decades, whereas the proportion of foreign nationals was 1,9% in 1996 compared to 8% in 2016 (Statistics Iceland, 2016). Also counting those who have gained an Icelandic citizenship the number sums up to around 9,6% of the total population (Statistics Iceland, 2016). At the same time, the image of Iceland has increasingly become associated with a ‘safe space’ or a ‘utopia’ for people with same-sex sexualities, which is a recreation of older images of Icelandic exceptionalism and relates strongly to how the Nordic countries are often presented as a ‘gender equality paradise’ (Þorvaldsdóttir, 2011; Ellenberger, forthcoming). The largest immigrant group in Iceland hails from Poland and more generally from Central and Eastern Europe, which is also where the focus of this paper lies. But as it turned out, this group is representivly small when it comes to people with same-sex sexualities, as either people are simply not out with their orientation or they have very limited connection to the queer community in Iceland. Potential reasons for this discrepancy will be illustrated, as well as discussions on issues relating to participants social class and disidentification; shame and agency; as well as their cultural intimacy and affective belonging. The study is based on interviews with twelve migrants from Central and Eastern Europe, who consider themselves to have same-sex sexualities and have been living in Iceland for one year or more. The paper argues that shame is placed on participants in various ways and from differential social structures. Though their cultural heritage and interactions with parents and extended family, as well as within the Icelandic context with regards to issues such as lack of language fluency and cultural intimacy. The paper also illustrates how participants demonstrate their agency within these cultural scenarios, as well as discussing participant’s sense of belonging to Icelandic society, their ethnic community and the queer community.
University of Potsdam
Imagining No Future? The sexualized logics of non/reproductivity in the Visuality of the European Border Regime
In 2015, the photograph of Aylan Kurdî – a 3-year old Syrian boy who drowned off the shores of Turkey – caused international outrage as it epitomized the horrific human cost of the global migrant crisis and Europe’s fatal border management. The image’s shock value is credited with eliciting global (hyper)visibility, compassion and even caused an instant surge in donations to charities helping migrants and refugees. In a very short time, Kurdî’s image reached an iconological status and was critized for referencing snu photography. Considering this media event, I will discuss the affective dynamics of the image of the dead child in regards to sexualized logics of citizenship and frame the current ways of organizing migratory and flight practises as always already concerned with questions of non/reproductivity. Following Lee Edelman’s notion of ‘reproductive futurism’ which names the logic by which the social good appears in coterminous with a futurity emblematized by fertility and vouchsafed through the image of the child, I will set out to address this new visual politics or Visuality which is concerned with the ‘image of the dead child’. Drawing on Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory and Visual Culture Studies, the talk sets out to address the sexual and intimate logics of managing political landscapes which aim to reinforce the borders of a nation or supra-nation.
Currently, questions of digitality are overwhelmingly discussed in reproductive terms and vice versa (e.g. data storage). Current visualities undoubtedly follow the digitalization of reproductivity as they produce and – at the same time – negotiate their new environments: the affective and premediated dynamics of Social Media ‘bubbles’. These visualities work in accordance with the digitalization of Europe’s border management, surveillance apparatuses and the preemption/premediation of migratory influx as they shape affective media environments. In this complex of intimate/sexual border managing and a necropolitical managing of non/reproductivity, the question needs to be raised: what does it mean – for Queer Theory and beyond – if the image of the ‘happy’ and ‘alive’ child is replaced by or contrasted with the image of the dead refugee child?
Vitor Lopes Andrade
Federal University of Santa Catarina
Sexual Orientation and Refuge: an ethnographic research in the city of São Paulo, Brazil
Since 2002, Brazil has been conferring the status of refugee for foreign people with the founded fear of being persecuted in their origin countries because of their sexual orientation. The general objective of this research was to analyze the social networks established/activated by these non-heterosexual asylum seekers and refugees once they were in the city of São Paulo, that is, to delineate a morphology of the social networks constituted by them. The specific objectives were: to verify in which social networks and in which moments the non-heterosexuality is presented, in other words, in which circumstances they disclose that they are not heterosexual; and to identify the possible formation/insertion in support networks specific for non-heterosexual sexualities. To achieve these objectives, an ethnographic field research was carried out in the city of São Paulo, which was possible through the volunteering in a non-governmental organization. The results showed that the non-heterosexuality is disclosed only in strategic moments, such as when it is the only reason to justify the asylum claim. The fear of being persecuted because of one’s sexual orientation by the fellow countrymen and other asylum seekers persists in Brazil, which results in the continuing hiding of non-heterosexual asylum seekers and refugees’ sexualities. Asylum seekers and refugees for reasons of sexual orientation do not constitute a social network among themselves and they do not take part in the national LGBT support networks in São Paulo. In this sense, it is possible to conclude that these refugees and asylum seekers undoubtedly find a more favorable and receptive atmosphere for their sexual orientations, but they keep on living through the logic of silence and invisibility.
University of Edinburgh
‘I will never miss Uganda!’: LGBT asylum, Danishness, and the homonational order of things
‘I never knew people like me could be wanted in a beautiful place like this,’ Arthur tells me half a minute into our interview in central Copenhagen in May 2016. The Ugandan 20-year-old has travelled in from Brønderslev, the northern town in which he was placed upon being granted asylum. Although Arthur emphasizes he will never miss Uganda, the refugee laments the lack of people ‘like you and me’ in Brønderslev. Contextualizing Arthur’s story and the perspectives of one volunteer in Anglo-Saxon ethnography on LGBT asylum and ethnography on Danish nationalism, I argue that Arthur’s flight and resettlement highlight the importance of place, community and identity in experiences of queer mobility and ideologies of belonging. Arthur’s recollection of homophobic persecution in Uganda disrupts the ‘national order of things’ that maps territory, community and belonging (Malkki 1995), even as LGBT asylum shores up a new homonational order of things. Place (the supposedly oppressive Third World versus the liberated West) and identity (being ‘gay’ or ‘Danish’) feature prominently in both Arthur’s asylum process and the Danish policy of integration-through-dispersal he subsequently had to navigate. Deterritorializing as they may be, global discourses of sexuality render certain countries and national communities uniquely safe, although this safety is challenged by the realities of resettlement. In Denmark, Arthur’s sexuality becomes a source of both identification and isolation, and scholarly representations of refugees’ adoption of internationalized LGBT identity categories as a form of strategic essentialism (Spivak 1988) fail to account for the complexity of Arthur’s experience. A ‘queer’ approach to migration warrants attention to how questions of place, identity and community continue to shape refugees’ experiences of displacement and migration, as well as European nationalisms. Such an approach enables us to reconcile, for instance, the injustices of Danish integration policy with the joys of feeling ‘wanted’.
6. Identity Borders
Chair: Sebastian Mohr (Aarhus University)
Marie Bjerre Odgaard
Patchwork identities and urban ‘queer’ lives in the Middle East
Based on 4,5 months in the field with a group of young gay and queer Ammanis, I look into everyday life practices in the urban context as ways of shaping what it “means” to be a gay or queer in relation to identity, life-style, taste and morals.Studies of non- heterosexual practices and identities in the “East” could be roughly divided roughly into two sections: studies of Western discourse’s deployment of hetero-homosexual identities as Orientalism, and studies of the local-historical practices of sexuality and gender categories – sometimes these two approaches are combined (Massad 2007). However in an increasingly “overheated” (Hylland- Eriksen2015) world, it is no longer su icient to speak of global versus local, traditional versus modern, nor colonialism versus its local responses when it comes to gender identity and sexual practices (Boellstor 2005,Abu-Lughod2013). Through the study of Amman as an urban context in which social spaces are being negotiated in everyday life (DeCerteau1984), I focus on how creative aesthetics and leisurely activities are interconnected with negotiations both on- and offline on the relation to oneself, the family and to potential partners etc. Through examples from everyday life, I look into how space is being reappropriated through creative engagement in the urban context. Queer theorist Judith Butler explained the concept queer as “a site of collective contestation”(1993). I take this perspective as I investigate how we can conceptualize gender and sexuality as both collective and an individual, and how a “queer- lens” works in this approach to discussions on identity, gender and sexuality the urban Middle East. Further, this is used to suggest the concept of patchwork identity to rework the normative meaning ascribed to gender and sexual identity in Western scholarship.
University of Padua
The transnational construction of queerness in everyday life of Senegalese migrants living in Italy
The proposed paper focuses on the transnational construction of queerness experienced by some Senegalese men living in northern Italy. The fieldwork has been carried out through in- depht interviews and ethnographic observations between Italy and Senegal. The research explores the intersections between cultural/religious diversity, migration experiences and non- normative sexual desires and behaviors. The main research interest is to understand to what extent migrants’ queerness and mobility might have influenced one another and potentially have modified belongings and bonds with significant social actors they are connected to (for instance family members, partners, friends, neighbors, compatriots, colleagues). Another goal is to propose some reflections on the impact of biographical factors (age, gender, sexual identity, class, nationality, socio-legal status) in the positionalities that these people occupy in the new context (as asylum seekers, refugees, students, workers, undocumented people or sex workers).
The paper underlines the need to explore the existence of queer spaces in Senegal and to look at everyday life of Senegalese queer migrants in order problematize a globalized narrative space excessively dominated by a pop-humanitarian approach that commonly portrays African countries as intrinsically homophobic and queer black migrants only as poor victims to rescue, neglecting the agency of queer people in Africa as well as those living abroad. Using different languages and performing strategic actions, queer Senegalese migrants demonstrate to perceive themselves and act as queer people in flexible ways. From one hand they challenge the burden of Western labelling attitudes and institutional practices of control, from the other hand they try to legitimate non-normative gender expressions and alternative categories that constantly change in relation to specific contexts and people they are in touch with.
European University Viadrina
Living in a transnational space: mobility and negotiations of sexuality among male migrant street-based sex workers in Berlin
Aureliano Lopes da Silva Junior
Rio de Janeiro State University
Made in Brazil, made in Thailand and made in Europe: the cross boarders connections in the embodiment of beauty for Brazilian transgender women
This work is part of the result of my PhD thesis called “Linda, doce, fera [beautiful, sweet, fierce]”: the construction of politics corporalities in the beauty pageant Miss T Brasil”, developed using ethnographic method by anthropological perspective in the Area of Concentration “Human Sciences and Health” from Institute of Social Medicine, Rio de Janeiro State University (IMS/ UERJ), and reflects on the construction of a political subject for transgender women in this beauty contest. Organized by ASTRA-Rio – Association of Travestis and Transsexuals of State of Rio de Janeiro – in partnership with Rio Without Homophobia Programme of SUPERDir / SEASDH – State Superintendence for
Individual, Collective and Diffuse Rights of the Rio de Janeiro State Secretariat of Social Assistance and Human Rights – this pageant is conceived as a cultural and political action that aims to promote a positive visibility for “the new trans women”: a role model in opposite that previous model marked by violence and social marginalization in Brazil, that now is supported by juridical and right area and biomedical and health fields. My focus in this paper is a discussion about how this role model from the beauty pageant create this political subject based on beauty and its own legitimacy using cross boarder images: Thailand and its Miss International Queen pageant as a locus of “real” legitimacy for transgender women; and Europe as a traditional place for Brazilian transgender in prostitution situation, what create an idea of beauty attached with values as richness, glamour, education, civility and desire for them. In this way, even being realized in Brazil, the political (and public) image that Miss T Brasil pageant create bring discursively this places continually being constructed as places where transgender could have citizenship and a better life than in Brazilian context. At the same time and in the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the situation of migrants of Brazilian transgender in many countries of Europe maintain an idea of “Brazilianity” (Brasilidade), luxury and exoticism embodied in this Brazilians who live abroad in this continent, what promotes a connection between countries, continents and values in the almost the same beauty role model for transgender women in all this places.
7. The Uses of Biopolitics in Postcolonial, Queer Ethnography (Roundtable)
Richard Karl Deang
Central European University
Central European University
Central European University
One of the most prominent critiques of Foucault’s work is its virtual silence on the significance of race and colonialism in the discursive construction of sexuality, despite its role in the development of postcolonial theory. Earlier postcolonial theorists have also criticized the tendency of scholars using Foucault’s work to universalize his specifically Western accounts. Could Foucault then be used to integrate queer theory, which is largely founded on Foucauldian claims, with postcolonial theory? Ann Laura Stoler’s Race and the Education of Desire (1995) answers this by illustrating the biopolitical foundations of interracial and colonial culture and politics. Stoler argues that together with capitalism, biopolitics is one of the historical roots of empire itself. But what does biopolitics tell us of the postcolonial present? What colonial recursions does it reveal, and what are the potential theoretical dangers of transposing this European framework into research on non-European sites? This roundtable deals with the implications of using biopolitics in the anthropological analysis of queer subjectivities in the postcolonial “East.” Drawing on ethnographic research conducted with queer communities in different parts of the world, discussants will explore the role of biopolitics as a node in the intersection of postcolonial theory and queer theory. Discussants will present brief commentaries on the subject with the aim of including other participants in an open discussion on the role of queer anthropology in engaging with this conceptual tool.