Queer Political Assemblages 4.0: Decolonizing the Queer Movement and Cultures: Politics, Possibilities and Pitfalls
Organization: Department of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
‘Decolonization’ is now a buzzword in academics as well as in contemporary South Asian politics, meaning different things to different people – from decolonizing the mind to literally demolishing colonial monuments: in many cases, the emotion associated with decolonization is grossly misplaced. If decolonization amounts to ethnic cleansing or for that matter, igniting communal animosity through distortion of history, leading to more fractures than harmony in society, that form of aggressive decolonization is certainly not desirable. Therefore, ‘decolonization’ needs to be understood in all its nuances, which are often whitewashed in order to advance divisive political agendas. So, what does decolonizing queer movements and cultures entail in contemporary times? The fourth edition of Queer Political Assemblages (2024) seeks to debate this question, taking off from the academic and activist scholarships that have garnered a complex discourse in recent years.
Decolonizing queer movements and cultures is not new, though. From the very beginning of the LGBTIQ+ movement around the agenda of decriminalizing Sec. 377 of the IPC, and the HIV-AIDS crisis that rocked the world through the 1980s and 1990s, sexuality in India has been understood through deployment of local terms, such as, kothi, panthi, chapatti etc. within activist discourses. While the LGBTIQ+ movement in the US, and associated expressions of queerness and terminologies dominated South Asia, particularly, after the liberalization of the economy in the early 90s, followed by the Internet Revolution, there have always been debates whether global terms such as gay, lesbian, etc., adequately capture how one feels about their sexuality within South Asian cultures with a different social, cultural and political history. Decolonization also, in a way, brought in its wake an urgency of glocalization (Robertson, 1980): while glocalization referred to how international corporations were required to modify their products in order to accommodate local consumer tastes or demands, it also philosophically impacted on how local expressions of sexualities were to be made intelligible vis-à-vis an overwhelming Euro-Americanization of queer sexualities. The nuances and gradations of being queer in postcolonial, neo-liberal India are far too many to enlist here: intersectionality, to cite one example, has acquired a completely new dimension in contemporary India, which is often difficult to theorize by deploying the ‘queer of colour’ critique (Ferguson, 2003).
While Sandeep Bakshi’s work around the Decolonizing Sexualities Network (DSN) shows the political and cultural challenges of decolonizing queer discourses, Sa’ed Atshan’s Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (2020) floats an interesting discourse on how LGBTIQ+ Palestinians, even as they fight patriarchy and imperialism, are themselves subjected to an “empire of critique” from Israeli and Palestinian institutions, Western academics, activists and cultural producers. W. J. Spurlin’s Imperialism Within the Margins (2006), focusing on South Africa’s ‘transition from apartheid to democracy’, reimagines what it means to be ‘queer’ by questioning how struggles for erotic autonomy in southern Africa could be understood in correlation with broader struggles toward decolonization among many other things. In India, for example, decolonization also entails questioning both Hindutva dominance in discourses of sexuality – the decriminalization of Sec. 377 of the IPC in 2018 being perceived as a definitive decolonizing act – along with bringing to the fore Dalit/Bahujan voices in de-brahminising sexualities. Nishant Upadhaya, Akhil Kanga, Dhiren Bhorisa, Living Smile Vidya, A. Revathi and many others raise disturbing questions related to sexualities’ deep and intriguing relationship with caste and communal identities, within which a critique of nationalist claims about a tolerant pre-colonial Hindu past emerges stridently, underscoring the necessity to challenge nationalist recolonization of understanding sexualities. The emergence of Crip Theory, on the other hand, speaks about how the sexualities scene is dominated by temporarily abled bodies, where, sexuality is often erased from or hesitantly associated with disabled bodies. Asexuality, which has found a new voice in recent times, challenges the predominance of a perceived hypersexualized queer associations, within which the absence of sex – the very act or the desire for it – is looked upon with suspicion, surprise or a generally dismissive attitude. Decolonization, therefore, entails, rethinking the centre/periphery binary, within several concentric circles and rhizomatic networks of belonging.
The fourth edition of Queer Political Assemblages, entitled, Decolonizing the Queer Movement and Cultures: Politics, Possibilities and Pitfalls - which is organised by the Department of English, Jadavpur University and is to be held Online via Zoom on 8 March 2024 - invites abstracts from academics, activists, and social workers on this topic. The abstracts should not be longer than 250 words and should be submitted through the Abstract Submission Form available at: https://forms.gle/ZRnajqpZPVcVgbEh7, on/by 25 February, 2024; intimations for the same will reach by 29th February, 2024. For any queries, reach out to us at email@example.com.
Queer Political Assemblages 4.0
Theme: Decolonizing the Queer Movement and Cultures: Politics, Possibilities and Pitfalls
Date of the Conference: 8 March 2024
Mode: Online (Zoom)
Last Date of Sending Abstract: 25 February 2024
Intimation about Selection: 29 February 2024
Submit your Abstracts via the Google Form: https://forms.gle/ZRnajqpZPVcVgbEh7
For queries, mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Kaustav Bakshi,
Department of English,