Wednesday, November 17, 2021
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute 111 Thayer St. Providence, RI 02906
To attend the on-campus event, you will be asked to register (TBA).
Please note that priority will be given to Brown faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students due to limited space. All registrations will be tentative pending receipt of our confirmation. Alternatively, you can follow on YouTube.
In this talk, Shakhsari grapples with the study of the state in the Middle East and argues that as contradictory and transnational assemblages of multi-layered institutions, people, and practices, states should neither be reduced to monolithic institutions with vertical authority over civil society in bounded territories, nor should they be aggrandized as sole arbitrators of violence. Unhinging queerness from sexual identity or injury inflicted by the territorial state, Shakhsari shows that state is only one among many entities that govern queer bodies. Drawing from the anthropology of state and their own ethnographic research on the management of life and death of Iranian queer and trans refugees by refugee regimes, shakhsari argues that rather than a normative approach to states as abstract bureaucratic institutions ranked on a scale of “authoritarianism” to “liberal democracy, the scholarship on state and queerness in the Middle East needs to go beyond theorizing state solely through the logic of rights or visibility. Instead, Shakhsari suggests, we must pay attention to the geopolitical constitution of states and restructurings of authority that follow neoliberal discourses of “good governance,” securitization, “democratization,” and “freedom." Borrowing from queer theory while unhinging it from its Euro-American epistemological grounding, and challenging comparative models wherein “liberal democratic” states become the yardstick against which other states are measured for their queer rights, Shakhsari suggests that "failed states" may indeed be "queer states."
Sima Shakhsari is an associate professor in the Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota and the author of Politics of Rightful Killing: Civil Society, Gender, and Sexuality in Weblogistan (Duke, 2020).
Queering the Middle East and its Diasporas Lecture Series
Supported by the Herbert H. Goldberger Lectureships Fund
Cosponsored by the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women