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Gay Imperialism

Gay Imperialism

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Published by Man Jian

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Published by: Man Jian on Nov 05, 2012
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Gay Imperialism:Gender and Sexuality Discourse in the ‘War on Terror’
Jin Haritaworn, with Tamsila Tauqir and Esra Erdem
Suddenly everybody wants a piece o the Paki pie.(Jaheda Choudhury, Out o Place conerence, 25 March 2006) How do we explain the new omnipresence o (some) queers o colour?
 Muslim gays and lesbians have received their debut in V programmes,newspaper articles, research projects and political events. At rst sight,this development is new and welcome. It breaks with the imposed silenceo those who have traditionally allen out o the simple representationalrames o a single-issue identity politics. Other queers o colour, however,continue to lack a public voice. Moreover, as Leslie Feinberg (2006) ob-serves, the interest in Muslim gays and lesbians has emerged rom a globalcontext o violent Islamophobia. Tis raises the question o which storiesare being circulated and how they contest or reinorce racism. It is alsoquestionable what interest other actors have in this new politics o queer o colour representation, notably white gays, lesbians, eminists and queers.
We use ‘queeras an umbrella term or coalitions between people o various marginalisedgender and sexual identities. We are aware o the traps o this usage. First, it is increasingly equated with ‘gay’. Mirroring this gay assimilationism, it is homophobia rather than transpho-bia or sex-work phobia which is most interesting to current imperialist subjectivities. Tis isalso why gay Muslims, rather than transgender or sex-working Muslims, are at the centre o thisdebate. Te second problem with queer, which we explore in this article, is that many queersidentiy as anti- or post-identity and hence outside o racism and other power relations.
10 Jin Haritaworn, with Tamsila Tauqir and Esra Erdem
Our article ocuses on the situation in Britain, where ‘Muslim’ and‘homophobic’ are increasingly treated as interchangeable signiers. Tecentral gure in this process is Peter atchell who has successully claimedthe role o the liberator o and expert about Muslim gays and lesbians. Tishighlights the problems o a single politics o representation, which equates‘gay’ with white and ‘ethnic minority’ with heterosexual. At the same time,the act that atchell’s group
passes as the emblem o queer andhence post-identity politics in Britain shows that the problem o Islamo-phobia is not reducible to the critique o identity. Te active participationo right- as well as let-wing, eminist as well as gay, ocial as well as civilpowers in the Islamophobia industry proves racism more clearly than everto be a 
problem, which crosses other social and political dierences.Racism is, urther, the vehicle that transports white gays and eministsinto the political mainstream. Te amnesia at the basis o the sudden as-sertion o a European ‘tradition’ o anti-homophobic and anti-sexist ‘corevalues’ is less a refection o progressive gender relations than o regressiverace relations. We will point to parallels in the German ‘integration’ debatearound the recent Immigration Act (
), the so-calledhonour killing o Hatun Sürücü and the new ‘Muslim est’ in the national-ity law. We critically examine the central role o individual migrant
womenlike Seyran Ateş and Necla Kelek in these German debates, who are con-structed as the notable exception which conrms the rule o a victimisedOriental emininity. Irshad Manji, the lesbian journalist rom Canada, is a urther ‘exceptional Muslim’. Her popularity in Britain and Germany ur-ther underlines the transnational nature o these white processes o iden-tication. In this article, we argue that neither gure – that o the notableexception and that o the aceless victim without agency – makes senseoutside its imperialist context.
Te article began as a series o open letters by two o us about the growing 
Te concept ‘migrant’ has its origin in anti-racist activism in Germany and includes peo-ple o urkish, North Arican, Southern European and other ethnocised origins, including German-born people o the second and subsequent generations o migration.
Our choice o Britain and Germany stems in part rom our biographies. Like many migrants
Gay Imperialism 11
conservatism o the white gay leadership, circulated to queer and eministorums in late 2005 and early 2006.
Our hope o nding allies and build-ing anti-racist sexual coalitions was largely disappointed. wo years later, while making our last revisions, the issue o sexual and multicultural rightsis at the brink o academic recognition. While we welcome any challengesto sexuality discourse in the ‘war on terror’, our epistemic communitiesneed to keep asking dicult questions in the spirit o this volume. How do the new theories reinscribe or challenge the single-issue politics at theroot o this problem, where sexual agency (and theory) remains white andcultural agency heterosexual? How do they contest or reinorce a constructo ‘Eastern culture’ as homophobic (and thereore open to ocial controland o re-colonisation by the ‘liberated West’)? Does their archive remain white, or do they acknowledge its theoretical and political predecessors inqueer Muslims and other queers o colour? As we shall demonstrate, aneective intervention into the ways in which sexual rights and migrantrights have become constructed as mutually contradictory requires a criti-cal historiography, which questions how white subjects came to claim theright to dene and theorise sexual liberation projects in the rst place.
and people with biographical backgrounds and links to Germany, Jin and Esra migrated toBritain in the search o a better place (Jin is still living here now). amsila has visited Germany and has ‘queer-extended’ amily links with people ‘originating’ there. Te two contexts are in-teresting in that they are oten presented as opposing paradigms o race relations, with diering histories o colonialism, genocide, and migration (Piper 1998). Britain has traditionally beenviewed as the more liberal regime, with its (now deunct)
ius soli 
(law o the soil) model o citi-zenship and its (now embattled) state multiculturalism. Tis contrasting view is contradictedby the ndings presented in this article, which point to the growing convergence and intertex-tuality o violent Orientalisms throughout Europe and the sel-identied ‘West’.
Te second birth place o this article, Esra’s and Jin’s
classrooms at Hamburg University and Humboldt University Berlin (January and February 2006), has been more ruit-ul. We would like thank our students, as well as Jennier Petzen, the organisers and partici-pants at the
Out o Place 
conerence, the
panel at the Let Book Days in Berlin,Liz Fekete,
Next Genderation
, and the ellow activists rom the
Conerence(Qekon) (Spring 2002), the
space at
Berlin (Summer 2002), andthe
sex radical queer o colour list (Summer 2007), or various moments o collabora-tion, inspiration and encouragement.

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