NOTES CONFERENCE COLONIALISM AND QUEER IDENTITIES

Out of Time: the queer politics of postcoloniality (Rahul Rao).
“The queer” and “the pervert” emerged at the same time as “the primitive” as a figure “out of time”.

All of the work on queer theory and non-linear time comes from the US making it problematic .

Homosexuality is Western (Foucault) vs Homophobia is Western (colonial penal codes, contemporary antique laws…)

Problematic of the archive: approach the archive as if it contained the secret whose revelation might effect transformation is to know in advance what we hope to find it is to make the subaltern speak

Basic outline of Two-Spirit contribution

1990 Indigenous lesbian and gay international gathering: adoption of the umbrella term Two-Spirit (Driskill 72)
–> Defined as having both a male and female gender

Historically served as mediators between women, men and spirit, and often adopted roles of “healers, people of medicine, […] storytellers, seers and visionaries, artists and artisans” (41).
Main argument: studying Two-Spirit people leads to a wider issue: the absence of object to represent their identities vs the presence of objects from non-Two Spirit people to judge or criticise them.
–>Look at performance studies specifically as a way to seize back control of one’s identity.
1) Kent Monkman’s art.: widely-recognized, interdisciplinary Two-Spirit Swampy Cree contemporary artist, who plays with sexuality and gender to reinsert queer Indigenous narratives into colonial history. June Scudeler argues that “if he sees sexuality in many Indigenous cultures as a fluid concept, Monkman also sees history as a fluid concept” (111). Indeed, Monkman’s alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle is a Two-Spirit time traveler             featured heavily in his work, who reverses colonial power relationships by putting “the Indian on top” in “acts of erotic sovereignty” (Scudeler 110). –> OUT OF TIME (Conference notes)
Monkman’s installation draws upon historical and colonial representations of queer Indigenous people and rituals, to metaphorically reclaim their eroticized bodies as well as their historical and territorial presence. The work echoes a painting by George Catlin, American painter and author who sought to document the ‘vanishing Indian’ during his travels. His painting ​Dance to the Berdashe  (figure 5) depicts a “dance common among the Sauk and Fox nations, of warriors dancing around Berdashe” (Monkman), which the painter later described in highly derogatory terms, as an “unaccountable and disgusting custom ”that he wished could “be extinguished” (Catlin 214-215). 

2) In ​A Journey In Gender (Aiyyana Maracle): queerphobia in Indigenous communities has been a result of colonisation and has had influence for many generations now, leading some elders to impose Christian or Eurocentric values in their communities. Presence of the Church “​have been the determinants of the moment when the genders beyond male and female went underground” (42).


3) More generally, Disconnect between academic studies about Two-Spirit people and the lived experiences of members of the community; the latter are often unable to meet and connect with each other

independent meeting – 29 Jan

Today’s independent discussion was really useful and enabled us to pinpoint exactly what our topic was through a visual brainstorm on the board and various examples from each of our disciplines or domains of interest. The connections and tensions between trans and feminist discourses appeared like our preferred subject, after last week’s discussion on the Gender recognition act. Syukie studied Women’s Place and explained that their discourse heavily relied on historical references and never explicitly addressed their transphobia. More generally we are interested in looking at two different phenomenons: conservatism in the trans community regarding women’s position in society as well as transphobia in feminist discourses, and particularly second wave feminism. We will look into the imperial burden on the subject and will also discuss the imaginative Weimar Republic “exoticism” and in what ways it has shaped such discourses. Each of us are going home for the week with different tasks and interests to then share with the group as we come back next week. Overall a very useful discussion!

Fragmentation Group A 18-19 (Emmanuelle Dot)

With this work on fragmentation and interdisciplinarity, I would be interested to put in practice some ideas from Queer theory as well as notions of aesthetics in philosophy and identity politics. “Taking control over one’s body” and the identity struggle are subjects that have been more and more prominent in mainstream media and discussions. Studying the fragmentation of identities and symbols through a study of the Body would be a segway into the subject, especially through the example of buzzcuts and their different meanings in popular culture.

 

Ideas of ways to address this in the presentation:

– Questions to fellow students and teachers: point out one part of their body that they most identify with and see as a representation of their identity à photo project

– Historical look at one particular aesthetic: tattoos and/or buzzcuts

– Queerness and “looking gay”: the twink in popular culture / film

 

Disciplines and theories:

– Queer theory

– Aesthetics in philosophy

– Identity Politics

– Cultural studies / History

– Representation: film and literature