[R6483] Staying Outside: Negotiating Anti-Assimilationist Gender and Sexual Variance in South West Asia, North Africa and Diasporas

Created by Anne Marie Butler
Tuesday, 11/30/21 11:30 am


Many scholarly frameworks have taken up issues of gender and sexuality that explore why and how oppression functions within contexts of the Middle East, South West Asia, North Africa and its diaspora. While these perspectives are crucial to understanding power operations, they often do not emphasize the voices of resistance that articulate new strategies of world-making. What artistic and activist interventions have contributed to thinking about gender and sexuality in more specific and culturally relevant terms within the Middle East, SWANA region, and its diaspora? This roundtable takes up gendered and sexual outsiderness as a position of power. Drawing on anti-assimilationist modalities such as queer, feminist, and decolonial theory, we will discuss instances of queerness, deviance, perversity, and the like to help nuance this history. The roundtable provides interdisciplinary discussion that investigates how queer people in the SWANA region and its diaspora deploy “outsider” positions related to sexuality and gender that is tied to ethnicity, class, race, ability, and legacies of colonization as intentionally disruptive practices, and emphasizes strategies and experiences of resistance to the state, social norms, and cultural expectations through varied ways of activism and cultural production. This discussion centers voices from different contexts within the Middle East, North Africa, South West Asia, and their diasporas to better illuminate agency and resistance to sexual imperialism, state oppression, and forced assimilation of gender non-conforming individuals. Drawing on approaches such as performance, protest, political art, and literature, this roundtable aims to engage in dialogues about embodied refusals of Orientalist homonormativity, language as a mechanism by which space can be created or constrained, and literature’s role in investigating the process of staying outside of normative gender. Contemporary and historical examples will be presented in order to describe specific methods of dissent and resistance, and to contextualize theoretical frameworks.


Organized under the auspices of the Queer Studies Interest Group


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Tahereh Aghdasifar

(California State University, Dominguez Hills)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Anne Marie Butler

(Kalamazoo College)
Anne Marie Butler is Assistant Professor of Art History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI. Her research areas are global contemporary art, Middle East North Africa studies, gender and sexuality studies, and queer theory....
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant; Organizer;

Sabeena Shaikh

(McGill University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Andrew Gayed

(New York University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Razan Ghazzawi

(University of Sussex)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;