The volume features a particular South Asia focus and a balanced mix of early career researchers and established scholars, which reflects Queering Paradigms’ ethos for fostering a genial academic community of practice and to proffer intergenerational support and voice.
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Introduction: Queer Interventions, Ethics, and Glocalities
- Part I Queer Interventions
- 1 The Queer Optimism of a Remuant Pedagogy
- 2 Queer(ing) Žižek
- 3 Queering Identities in Psychology: Blind Alleys and Avenues
- 4 Transiting Decolonization, Gender, and Disease through/in/with Performance as Research
- Part II Troubling (Glocal) Ethics
- 5 The Ethics of Queer/ing Criminology: The Case of the ‘Prison of Love’
- 6 Reproductive Ethics: An Example of an Allied Dis/Ability-Queer-Feminist Justice
- 7 Representing Queer Women: Nakedness and Sexuality in the Visual Presentation of the Colonised Body of the Female Other
- 8 Lynchpin for Value Negotiation: Lesbians, Gays and Transgender between Russia and ‘the West’
- Part III Queer Glocalities in South Asia
- 9 Queering Virtual Intimacies in Contemporary India
- 10 Unsettling the ‘Hijra’ Identity: A Study of the Hijras of Siliguri
- 11 Changing Sex in Pāli Buddhist Monastic Literature
- 12 Variant Dharma: Buddhist Queers, Queering Buddhisms
- Afterword: Learning from Queer/Variable Embodiment
- Notes on Contributors
- Series Index
This book is part of the larger project of applied academic queering in form of the international scholar-activist network Queering Paradigms (QP).1
The sixth Queering Paradigms volume draws from the homonymous conference held at Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom, and sponsored by the Theology and Religious Studies unit in the School of Humanities and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
This conference was part-merged with the ‘Variabilities II’ conference in Winchester, organized by Chris Mounsey and Stan Booth. Participants of the conference/s had the opportunity to do a variable/queer version of the traditional south English pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those involved in the organization of the conference/s.
All chapters in this book were double-blind peer-reviewed and I want to convey my gratitude to all the peer-reviewers for their meticulous and constructive contributions.
Lucy Melville and the team from Peter Lang also deserve grateful mentioning for their always friendly and professional support. Finally, my unaltered love and gratitude goes out to my spouse, Dr Patrick de Vries, for his unwavering support and affection – without his organizational, editorial, computational and emotional support this book would not have been possible.
|Canterbury, 6 June 2016 |
← ix | x →
The sixth Queering Paradigms (QP) volume brings together perspectives on embodied queerness within the complicated diachronic and synchronic parameters of hegemonic oppressive normativities; biopolitics and social-religious governmentalities. Not simply looking at LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex, queer/querying etc.) realities and lives, queer resistance and the queer rebellious critical impulse necessarily address sexual and gender identity justice intersectionally in their complex interpellation with the messy wealth of identitarian markers and constructs inscribed onto individual bodies by, among other, reproductive-patriarchal, (neo)colonial, racist, nationalist, classist, ageist, able-ist and other socio-corporeal normative discourses. This volume offers queer interventions, explores value-production in socio-corporeal normative frameworks, and exemplifies and highlights the complexity of queering in the global-local continuum.
The interventions in this volume aim to challenge, among others, status quos in academic disciplines; advance cultural philosophy; and give voice to embodied artivism. They ‘offer alternative readings and significations […] to demonstrate the necessary instability of […] ‘“natural”, “fixed” or “stable” discourses’ (Ramlow 2009: 131). In psychology, interventions point to the healing incursions directed at harmful cognitive, emotive and behavioral patterns of the psycho-social subject/experiencer. Just as post-traumatic interventions aim to help victims of physical violence, war and terrorism (see Blumberg, Hare and Costin 2006: 242–244), queer interventions can be understood as countering the psycho-social violence against queer subjects; these are done through concrete acts of resistance in the public sphere through activism, art(ivism); political and civic disobedience and protest; through individual, contextual modes of resistance, counter-scripts and ← 1 | 2 → resilience. Indeed, as Alípio de Sousa Filho poignantly remarks regarding counter-normative sexual practices and the private/public divide: ‘nuestro culo es público y revolucionario’ (Sousa forthc.).
Through interventions, exemplified in the first part of the book, queer maintains its revolutionary subversive functionality: as impulse and catalyst for cultural shifts, queer interventions effectuate healing changes in the intersectional nexus of the traumatizing societal violence of compulsory normalcies. At the academic-theoretical level queer enters and subverts harmful discourses at work among communities of practice and academic disciplines. Here a ‘[t]heoretical articulation of queer, rather than an empirical elaboration of queer crystallizations’ (Barnard 2004: 7) provides the discoursive foundations for ‘queerversity’ (Engel 2013) and ‘[q]ueer utopia as a modality of critique that speaks to quotidian gestures as laden with potentiality’ (Muñoz 2009: 91).
Before and after queerversity, questions of value-production, ethics, and oppressive and emancipatory systems of moral codes are key to individual and societal identity performances; in one strand of Queer Theory, ‘ethics’ appears to be a dirty word, always implicated in the heteropatriarchal oppression and biopolitics, which queer counters. Queer in this reading becomes a necessarily nihilist impulse. Yet, it can be argued that queer nihilism ought to be transitory, leading to ‘postqueerity’ – just as Nietzsche’s nihilism is transitory, leading to his Übermensch. However relevant in the ‘queer now’, the linkage of queer impulses with nihilism obfuscates the need of real queer subjects to negotiate value-grids, a need that extends to any postqueer paradigm and calls for, in the Foucauldian sense, postmoral ethics. Does Queer Theory, as theologian Elizabeth Stuart argues, need saving from ‘hopeless idealism and nihilism’ (Stuart 2003: 102)? What, then, is (post)queer ethics? Utopian ‘virtuosity’ (Muñoz 2009: 177–178) or the dangerously naïve ‘cheap urban radicalism’ (Spivak 2007: 175) espoused by the privileged Queer (or queer-normative!) Theorist, ‘who can afford to reject “pragmatic” politics in favour of more “radical” interventions’ (Dhawan 2016: 62)? A point in case for the idiosyncrasy of dogmatic, essentialized rather than transitory, queer nihilism is its current fusion with ideological self-sabotage. Just as is the case with ‘ethics’, the recourse to (universal) ‘Human Rights’ as pragmatic or strategic essentialism in a queer ← 2 | 3 → critical context has become anathema for those, who conflate any reproductive heteronorm with (the result of) colonialism, as Nikita Dhawan (2016: 58–62) elucidates in her critique of Jasbir Puar (2007) and Joseph Massad (2007). State-phobia renders some strands of queer/postcolonial critique blind to the real, embodied needs of queers marginalized by reproductive heteronorms. Some of those ‘privileged urban radicals’ in their rightful activist cause against pink-washing and homonationalism appear complicit with other forms of state-oppression, accepting invitations and sponsorships from questionable authorities implicated in harmful biopolitics, while calling for boycotts against other state’s oppressive politics, e.g., Israel’s state ‘apartheid’. More fundamentally, this blind-alley (and/or hypocrisy) in parts of the queer/postcolonial discourse results, if not in naïvely becoming instrumentalized by harmful agendas, in the ‘intellectual dilemma of being rendered voiceless as an activist from the Global North in the face of any suffering which is culturally and postcolonially framed’, the
very dilemma of ethical-relativizing silence with regard to harmful cultural (and religious) practices, e.g. to avoid the charge of homonationalism (see, for example, the powerful critique offered by Zanghellini 2012). This silent complicity with evident heteropatriarchal oppression appears to mistake postcolonial agency (which can for many reasons be complicit with that very oppression) with informed, individual empowerment to claim freedom of suffering. (Scherer 2016a).
The chapters in this volume do not aim to solve this dilemma; rather they demonstrate the discoursive power of value-production and the pathways of queer resistance, virtuosity and failure. By doing so, they take the hybridity of global-local situatedness of queer seriously, showing how heteropatriarchy is ‘glocally’ (Robertson 1995) negotiated and resignified. In particular, the third part of this volume pays attentions to South Asian ‘impossible desires’ in local sites and global contexts (cp. Gopinath 2005), looking diachronically at Buddhist discourses and synchronically on contemporary queer realities.
Hence, this edited volume contains three both distinct and overlapping sections: ‘Queer Interventions’, ‘Troubling (Glocal) Ethics’ and ‘Queer Glocalities in South Asia’. Unlike the trailblazing challenge to hegemonic ← 3 | 4 → academic linguistic coding contained in the Spanglish queerings of Queering Paradigms V (Viteri and Lavinas Picq 2016), all of this volume’s chapters are written in English, albeit in its various varieties (American, British, South Asian, Australian) as employed by the authors. The considerable number of pre-doctoral contributors to this volume reflect QP’s explicit ethos to foster a genial academic community of practice and to proffer intergenerational support and voice.
Heading this volume’s interventions is Emile Bojesen’s chapter ‘The Queer Optimism of a Remuant Pedagogy’. Bojesen argues that there are certain existential conditions which affect life, even if they are not recognized, and that these conditions do not preclude certain provisional positivistic pedagogies. Bojesen’s intervention positions itself outside of that which attempts to use Queer Theory or the concept of ‘queer’ to assign or recognize the value of difference within society. Rather, he investigates how the designation of all subjects as ‘queer’ might assist in developing a conception of ‘the subject’ appropriate to conceiving of a pedagogy in existence that it is argued is remuant: changeable, restless and fickle. The chapter outlines how queer subjects might learn and teach optimistically in a remuant existence. Following on from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s later writing on pedagogy from her book Touching Feeling (Sedgwick 2003), Bojesen argues that the very idea of a queer subject in a remuant existence might be educational.
Moving from the philosophy of education to social theory and cultural philosophy, Bojan Koltaj’s ‘Queer(ing) Žižek’ explores whether the Slovenian post-marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek could be considered as a queer thinker and a possible resource, or at least referent, for Queer Theory. Koltaj shows that, even though Žižek does not primarily address sexuality, he shares with Queer Theory the basic conviction that sexual identity is a socially significant and politically charged construct. Yet, it is Žižek’s wider concern with a broader ideological analysis of society and the subject, that Koltaj sees as being of relevance and potential for Queer Theory’s own self-understanding, its character, struggles and future as it challenges normative categories of identity. The chapter uses Donald Hall’s (2002) tentative definitory approximations of ‘queer’ to demonstrate the queer character of Žižek’s thought, and to allow for a consideration of how his ← 4 | 5 → insights could be used in Queer Theory – particularly as a reminder of its radical challenge, its constant temptation to normativity, and an affirmation of hope, as a corrective to Lee Edelman’s (2004) nihilism.
Intervening in contemporary psychology discourses, the next chapter ‘Queering Identities in Psychology: Blind Alleys and Avenues’ by Julia Scholz reflects on the gaps, tensions and boundaries between subject specific discourses and more abstract social theory and ‘onto-epistemological perspectives’. Scholz argues that mainstream psychology is taking a blind alley with respect to the queering impulse and potential, which can (and already does) contribute to disrupting co-dependent relationship of normalcy and the norm-troubling ‘queer’ subject. Scholz analyzes the Self-Categorization Theory (SCT) as a promising candidate in terms of a possible queering. Differentiating between queer theoretical adequate notions and essentializing notions, the chapter concludes with suggestions for a queer SCT, which acknowledges that cognitive dimensions have materialized functionally through confrontation with regulatory regimes and that the self-categorization process itself is context-sensitive to cultural norms.
In the final chapter of the intervention section, Alba Pons Rabasa, Daniel Brittany Chávez and Carolina Novella present ‘artivist’ narrative interventions to (neo)colonialism, race, gender, and health discourses. ‘Transiting Decolonization, Gender, and Disease through/in/with Performance as Research’ uses an interdisciplinary perspective that intertwines post-structural feminism, transfeminism, and corporeal feminism and queer/crip theories. The chapter discusses three Performance as Research (PAR) examples, investig-acciónes (research-activism). These case studies of the transiting in drag king (‘Encarn/acciones Drag’, Alba Pons Rabasa), transmasculinity/-ies (Daniel Brittany Chávez) and the ‘transbodification’ induced by bio-medical (oncological) intervention (Carolina Novella) exemplify both corporeal and performative identity formation. Their investig-acción includes the dragging of gender-normativities (Alba Pons Rabasa); the struggle for (queer/ed) referents to everyday day trans* life potentials (Daniel Brittany Chávez), and the somatic deconstruction of referential relations (Carolina Novella). The exemplified decolonial and post-human performance art enables the research-activists to refocus on the body itself: corporeality and embodiment intertwined. ← 5 | 6 →
The section on ethics in this volumes continues discoursive interventions while shifting the research accent on the production and queering of ethical codes. In ‘The Ethics of Queer/ing Criminology: The Case of the “Prison of Love”’ Matthew Ball continues his previous interventions in mainstream criminology. Recent calls for a critical and queer criminology, in particular for the field to become more responsive to, and reflective of the needs of, queer communities, have ignited debates about the value of queer scholarship and politics for criminology. Does the queering of criminology simply require the greater representation and inclusion of queer communities within criminological thought? Or does it require a more disruptive troubling of criminology itself? Ball’s chapter explores the ethical stakes of these questions through analyzing the controversy surrounding the ‘Prison of Love’ party held during the 2014 San Francisco Pride events – a prison-themed dance party that was protested by queer activists who felt that it trivialized serious issues such as the expansion of the carceral state and the institutional violence exercised upon ‘trans women and gender non-conforming people of color’. Using Judith Butler’s discussions on lives that ‘matter’ (2009) to consider these controversies, Ball explores the value of queer criminological investments in the institutions of the nation-state (such as the police, and even criminology itself), the extent to which a more subversive ‘queering’ of these institutions may be necessary, and, indeed, how we can best improve the spaces in which queer lives may be lived in the criminal justice context.
Doris Leibetseder in her chapter ‘Reproductive Ethics: An Example of an Allied Dis/Ability-Queer-Feminist Justice’ looks at queer(ed) (vari)ability and ethics with a focus on biological reproduction and Assisted Reproductive and Genetic Technologies (ARGT). With examples of the challenges faced by dis/abled, trans* and intersex in the context of ARGT, Leibetseder creates an allied queer-feminist ethics of reproduction. By means of queer-feminist methods such as affirmative reading and diffraction the chapter addresses important questions around queer/crip reproductive justice and agential possibilities in the wake of bio-technological developments. What emerges is a non-pathologizing bio-medical ethics as an example of an applied (postmoral) ethics. ← 6 | 7 →
Continuing the corporeal ethical queering, Christina Welch explores the visual representation of the bodies of colonized women through the lenses of Christian mores, (proto)-Social Darwinism, and the troubling problematic of nakedness with its association of fallenness and excessive sexuality. ‘Representing Queer Women: Nakedness and Sexuality in the Presentation of the Colonised Body of the Female Other’ focuses on Saartjie Baartman (1789–1815) and Millie-Christine McKoy/McCoy (1851–1912); both black women who were both exhibited live in America and Britain. Welch shows how, with Western worldviews typically situating women as indicative of a culture’s morality and respectability, colonized women were not only Othered and queered, but stood as symbols of their race; savage, pagan and primitive. Highlighting the use of early illustrations of American Indian women to cast them as lascivious, Welch notes how colonial photographs several centuries later continued this theme. The chapter highlights the connections made between black women such as Saartjie, and European prostitutes, via the so-called Hottentot Apron, while noting that respectable White women who bared their flesh, such as Lady Hamilton, were not conceived of in such salacious terms. Welch also explores how Millie-Christine largely escaped the overt sexualization of her Othered body due to her assimilated status, but argues that when science was able to explore her private parts, her position of intersectional subversion fell away, leaving her as exposed as Saartjie.
Concluding the second section, the chapter ‘Lynchpin for Value Negotiation: Lesbians, Gays and Transgender between Russia and “the West”’ by Masha Neufeld and Katharina Wiedlack takes up some of the most recent media debates about homosexuality and gender-transgressive body performances in Russia. Neufeld and Wiedlack analyze the connection between values like purity, traditionalism, religiosity and morality and the rejection of homosexuality as sinful, perverse and ‘Western’ within Russia. Focusing on the current negotiation of values within media, Neufeld and Wiedlack investigate their consequences for activism at the example of the video ‘Break the silence’ (Cломать молчание) by the St Petersburg LGBTIQ organization ‘Coming Out’ (Выход). The chapter shows that Russian as well as North/Western discourses contribute to the construction of homosexuality in tight connection to Western concepts of tolerance ← 7 | 8 → and as anti-Russian. Neufeld and Wiedlack strongly criticize the North/Western strategy of shaming Russia into a more tolerant behavior toward queers, while at the same time focusing the blaze of anti-Western rhetoric within Russian media in a quest for a more nuanced understanding and more productive discussions.
The final section takes up Neufeld and Wiedlack’s reflections on geo-political and global-local (glocal) parameters of queer/ed interventions and ethics. The third part of the book, ‘Queer Glocalities in South Asia’ focuses on contemporary queer India (Dasgupta, Dukpa) and on Buddhism (Anderson, Scherer).
In ‘Queering Virtual Intimacies in Contemporary India’ Rohit K. Dasgupta explores how social networking sites and new media technologies have proliferated opportunities for queer men in India to make contact, arrange encounters and ‘hook up’. Dasgupta interrogates the very idea of intimacy and virtual intimacies as defined by McGlotten (2007: 123) as ‘intimacies mediated by technologies, by screens in particular’. Adding to the growing body of research on online queer spaces Dasgupta explores virtual intimacies through case studies from urban India, which bring forth the complex and affective nature of digital culture. He demonstrates how gay/queer men use the internet and more recently their smart phones as key instruments for inhabiting their lives and enabling them by means of dating apps such as Planet Romeo and Grindr to extend the spatial and social limitations that hindered their ability to meet other gay/queer men and mediate a level of intimacy. The chapter troubles the democratized potential that Internet is presumed to be, by looking at the disjunctures caused by gendered/trans expressions and social class/socio-economic status of its users.
Following the contemporary glocal theme, Lhamu Tshering Dukpa presents a case study of gender-queering from North Bengal. ‘Unsettling the “Hijra” Idenity: A Study of the Hijras of Siliguri’ focuses on the particular South Asian ‘third’ sex/gender category/identity traditional available to sex/gender/sexuality non-confirming people within ‘Sanskritized’ Indian cultural spaces. ‘Hijra’ sex/gender identity is shown to be both counter-binary and binary reinforcing as hijras refuse to inhabit exclusive spaces of masculinity and femininity and choose to transcend the bi-polarity by ← 8 | 9 → identifying as a discrete sex/gender. Dukpa questions the validity of the ‘absolute’ cultural identity of the hijras by investigating three important consolidating identitarian attributes: castration, occupational role and asexuality. The micro-qualitative case study addresses changes in certain practices of the hijra culture and challenges the congealing process of the contested ‘true’ hijra identity or what I would term ‘hijra-normativity’.
South Asian paradigms of sex/gender/sexuality variance are also the focus of Carol S. Anderson’s chapter ‘Changing Sex in Pāli Buddhist Monastic Literature’. In the first of the Buddhist studies companion pieces, Anderson takes her cue from the existence in South Asian Buddhist literature of a more fluid system of gender that is based in more than a simple essentialist dichotomy between male and female normatively gendered bodies. Even though Buddhist schools as a whole tend to reject all binaries on a philosophical level, it is erroneous to approach the lines that demarcate biological sex and genders as simply one more binary to see through. In terms common to all Indic philosophical schools, gender is more than just illusion. In quintessential Buddhist logic, gender both exists and does not exist. Beginning with the references in the canonical Buddhist monastic code (Vinaya-piṭaka), Anderson discusses the settings for the stories of sex/gender variance and traces explanations about sex change throughout early commentaries on the Pāli canonical texts. By doing so, Anderson demonstrate the ways sex and gender both exist and are unstable and changeable in the Pāli Buddhist contexts and beyond. The chapter includes the first full translation of a substantial, relevant passage of the fifth-century CE commentary on the first section of Vinaya-piṭaka, the Samantapāsādikā. As philologist and queer scholar-activist, Anderson provides important material and insights for the queer-reading and queering of religious texts and contexts.
Exploring the Buddhist themes further, my own chapter ‘Variant Dharma: Buddhist Queers, Queering Buddhisms’ complements Anderson’s chapter by taking a both diachronic and synchronic look at queer(ing/ed) Buddhist themes throughout various Buddhist traditions and contexts. In this chapter, I engage as a Buddhist queer in academic ‘sex work’, exploring and troubling the traditional construction of non-normative sexualities and gender identities. First, by historical-philological methods, ← 9 | 10 → I investigate how such constructs are framed in traditional Buddhist ethics and teachings on sexualities and gender variance paying close attention to textual witnesses in Indic, Chinese, Old Uyghur and Tibetan sources, which have so far been overlooked in this context. Switching to anthropological, philosophical and ‘theological’ modes the chapter explores the possibilities; tribulations; and opportunities for Queer Buddhist ‘Liberation Theology’. The final chapter of this volumes’ concluding section hopes to exemplify how interventions, ethics, and glocalities triangulate in the scholarly-activist queering impulse.
In his afterword, Chris Mounsey recounts ‘a queer moment of recognition and distance’, which led the variable/queer conference tandem in July 2015, which forms the foundation for this volume and for its companion The Variable Body in History (QP In Focus 1. Peter Lang, 2016). Mounsey reflects on the queerness of ‘same only different’ academic and embodied performances and on his own, long-running and award-winning pedagogical queering in HE pedagogy by means of the undergraduate module ‘Literature, Sexuality and Morality’.
Mirroring Mounsey’s ‘same only different’ approach to variable embodiment (Mounsey 2014: 18; see Scherer 2016b), Queering Paradigms VI: Interventions, Ethics and Glocalities highlights post-Foucauldian and intersecting queerings and pathways to messy acceptance and accepting the messiness of embodied identitarian performances.
- X, 310
- ISBN (PDF)
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- ISBN (MOBI)
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- Publication date
- 2017 (September)
- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2016. X, 310 pp., 4 coloured ill., 5 b/w ill.