[Marxism] "Progressive" academic gender/"queer" navel gazing

David Thorstad binesi at gvtel.com
Thu Jul 1 07:14:03 MDT 2010

I could barely hold my nose long enough to get through this solipsistic, 
masturbatory example of current "progressive" academic examination of 
homo-/gender assimilation into European capitalism. So far have the 
liberationist impulses of sixties sexual freedom movements sunk.
> Conference - 27 & 28 January 2011 - University of Amsterdam
> Sexual Nationalisms
> Gender, Sexuality and the Politics of Belonging in the New Europe
> Since 1989, and even more so after 9/11, the rise of new nationalisms
> has been inextricably linked to a refashioning of the politics,
> identities and imaginaries of gender and sexuality in Europe. The old
> virile nationalism analyzed by George Mosse is now being reinvented in
> the light of a new brand of sexual politics. Feminist demands and
> claims of (homo)sexual liberation have moved from the counter-cultural
> margins to the heart of many European countries' national
> imaginations, and have become a central factor in the European Union's
> production of itself as an imaginary community. Rhetorics of
> lesbian/gay and women's rights have played pivotal roles in discourses
> and policies redefining modernity in sexual terms, and sexual
> modernity in national terms. How are these baffling shifts in the
> cultural and social location of sexuality and gender to be understood?
> In Europe and beyond, the refashioning of citizenship contributes to
> the redefinition of secular liberalism as cultural whiteness.
> Homophobia and conservatism, gender segregation and sexual violence
> have been represented as alien to modern European culture and
> transposed upon the bodies, cultures and religions of migrants,
> especially Muslims and their descendants. In the process, the status
> of Europe's ethnic minorities as citizens has come under question. How
> can the entanglement of sexual and gender politics, anti-immigration
> policies, and the current reinvention of national belonging be
> analyzed? How are we to understand the appropriation of elements of
> the feminist and sexual liberation agenda by the populist and
> Islamophobic right?
> The prominence of sexual democracy in the remaking of European
> national imaginaries requires bringing the critique of gender and
> sexuality beyond second-wave feminism and post-Stonewall liberationist
> perspectives. In late-capitalist, post-colonial Europe, struggles for
> sexual freedom and gender equality no longer necessarily challenge
> dominant formations; on the contrary, they may be mobilized to shape
> and reinforce exclusionary discourses and practices. The new politics
> of belonging is thus inseparable from the new politics of exclusion.
> This shift has not been without consequences for progressive social
> movements. Whereas in social and cultural analysis, nationalism has
> long been associated with male dominance, sexual control and
> heteronormativity, certain articulations of feminism and lesbian/gay
> liberation have now become intimately entwined with the reinforcement
> of ethnocultural boundaries within European countries.
> As feminist historian Joan W. Scott recently argued when she coined
> the provocative notion of "sexularism", new forms of sexual regulation
> have been introduced, especially targeting migrants, their
> descendants, and other "non-whites". Discursively defining the new
> national common sense, sexularism also operates at the level of the
> visceral, reaching deep into the sexual and racial politics, habits
> and emotions of everyday life. A required allegiance to sexual
> liberties and rights has been employed as a technology of control and
> exclusion--what could be called a "politics of sexclusion".
> Symmetrically, the Europeanization of sexual politics has entailed
> counter-reactions both inside and outside Europe. In Eastern Europe
> admission to the European Union has been conditioned on the acceptance
> of the new standards of sexual democracy, which sometimes led
> anti-European reactions to also frame themselves in sexual terms. In
> Western Europe "non-"whites can sometimes be tempted to identify with
> the caricatures imposed upon them.
> An increasing number of scholars in the humanities and social sciences
> have begun to investigate the important shifts taking place in
> discourses of sexual freedom and gender equality across the continent.
> These shifts open up new arenas for ethnographic and other empirical
> research. What role do sex and gender play in various European
> nationalisms? In which cultural terms are sexual and gender boundaries
> articulated? What different trajectories can be discerned, and how can
> differences between countries be explained? What are the effects of
> these transformations at the level of the formation of community and
> subjectivity? How do these discursive shifts become tangible in
> everyday life? And how can sexual politics avoid the trap of
> exclusionary instrumentalization without renouncing its emancipatory
> promise?
> In order to discuss such questions, we invite contributions grounded
> in ethnography and other empirical research along the five following
> themes:
> 1. The Nationalization of Gender Equality
> In secular European imaginations of immigrants and their descendants,
> the Islamic headscarf in particular has been perceived as an axiomatic
> signifier of religious and gender oppression. It has been listed along
> other "uncivilized" ills also attributed to ethnic minorities and
> disadvantaged neighborhoods, whether they be domestic violence, forced
> marriage, or female genital mutilations. In contrast, recently
> acquired milestones in gender equality, like the legal right to
> abortion, have been adopted by Left and Right politicians alike as new
> symbols of timeless national essences. What representations of gender
> have been conveyed by contemporary constructions of the nation? How
> have forms of domination between men and women been challenged and/or
> reproduced in neonationalist and secularist projects? In what ways are
> migrant women's lives affected by the entwinements of feminist
> discourses and movements with these projects? How have those women
> experienced and handled being framed as simultaneously the main
> victims and the main accomplices of the new Islamic threat?
> Whereas religion is understood as operating at the level of the
> embodied, the habitual, material and visceral aspects of secularism
> are generally ignored or obscured. But what is the secular counterpart
> of the religious body? What does a gendered politics of secularism
> look like? At times, restrictive policies against women wearing
> headscarves have been justified in terms of the necessary limitation
> of religion to the private sphere; at other times, they have been
> framed in terms of gender equality and feminist ideals. Should this
> justificatory plurality be taken at face value, or does it point to
> deeper and more complex resentments against postcolonial and other
> "non-white" migrants?
> 2. The National Politics of Sexual Freedom
> In Europe, ideals and practices of sexual freedom have mostly been
> experienced as a tangible break with formerly hegemonic religious
> traditions and the restraints of community and family. In particular,
> gay people have sometimes been framed as the very embodiment of modern
> liberalism, as self-fashioning, unattached, and autonomous subjects.
> Why have such representations been so effectively tied to the
> nationalization of modernity in some countries but not in others? What
> have been the specific trajectories of such representations, and how
> have they affected lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender identified people
> in everyday life? What new normativities have been shaped in the
> process? And what have been the consequences of these discourses for
> those who have been framed as the "others" of sexual democracy--
> Muslims and ethnic minorities?
> What have been the implications of such reinventions of sexual
> whiteness for everyday life in the global cities of Western Europe,
> and the sexual, cultural, religious and political diversity they
> offer? How have feminist and lesbian/gay movements been affected by
> these shifts in the social location of sexual and gender politics?
> What does "race" have to do with the refashioning of sexual politics
> and identities? If sexual freedom and gender equality are being
> mobilized in a culturalist re-enactment of European racism, how does
> this affect white imaginaries and subjectivities? How are those
> (historically) excluded from whiteness affected by it? Which bodies
> come to be constructed in the sexual politics of neonationalisms?
> Which forms of "queerness" are being authorized and which
> articulations of sexual otherness are being "queered" and thus
> excluded from sexual normality? On what grounds does this occur, and
> how do these processes materialize in everyday life?
> 3. The Urban Geographies and Class Politics of Sexual Democracy
> The interweaving of urban governance with sexual politics has been
> normalizing certain sexual spaces at the exclusion of others. In the
> context of an emergent urban entrepreneurialism and as part of
> gentrification processes, sexual others have been conscripted into
> urban politics and spatial renewal, while new hetero- and
> homonormativities have taken shape in the process. Gender
> representations have also played important roles in framing and
> representing cities as aesthetically and commercially attractive for
> business, tourists and aspiring residents. Simultaneously, certain
> brands of urban theory have celebrated gay men and women as the
> avant-garde of urban change, hence of the conquest of formerly working
> class and ethnic minority neighborhoods by bohemian middle and upper
> classes. What roles have sexuality and gay urban presence played in
> processes of gentrification? How have sex and gender been articulated
> in the urban governance of social marginalization?
> How are the sexual politics of neoliberalism to be understood? What
> role does the market play in the sexual reinvention of nationalism and
> citizenship and in shaping new (homo)normativities? Is the
> stigmatization of Muslim migrants as sexually conservative a
> reenactment of discourses that in the past stigmatized working class
> communities as immoral, archaic or authoritarian? What do the class
> politics of "sexularism" look like? What kinds of subjectivities are
> produced in new regimes of sexual progress?
> 4. The Sexual Politics of Immigration Policies
> The ever-stricter immigration policies of Europe--both at national
> levels and at the level of the E.U.--have often been justified in
> terms of sexual democracy: migrants, especially from Africa or other
> Islamic countries, have been ostensibly kept out, not on racial, but
> on sexual grounds, in order to preserve the hard-won democratic values
> of Europe in the treatment of sexual minorities, and even more
> crucially, of women. As a consequence, these same migrants, whose
> matrimonial (forced, fake, etc.) or sartorial (hijab, niqab, etc.)
> practices have thus been under constant scrutiny, are expected to
> demonstrate a sincere adhesion to sexual democracy that is presumed
> inherent to European cultures, despite its very recent history and
> contemporary limitations.
> How does such a constraint redefine the subjectivities of migrants--
> as well as that of their European partners? What does it mean for a
> woman of Islamic culture to be encouraged to reject her family's
> expectations in order to express her sexual modernity? What are the
> strategies available to migrant women and sexual minorities who
> attempt to resist oppression, even violence, while refusing to be
> co-opted by anti-immigrant, if not xenophobic or racist, politics? In
> other words, what are the interactions between the sexual logic of
> immigration policies and the sexual imaginaries and practices of the
> migrants thus targeted?
> 5. European Sexual Modernization and Its Discontents
> Today, the borders of Europe are also sexual boundaries. Admission
> into the E.U. requires identifying with the agenda of sexual
> democracy. At the same time, almost by definition, non-European
> countries are suspect. Turkey's tradition of secularism largely
> inspired by the French historical model has not been sufficient to
> dispel the suspicion that this Muslim country is alien to European
> sexual democracy--as evidenced by the visible presence of the Islamic
> headscarf. In the same way, international campaigns against homophobia
> have largely been about the homophobia of others: the logic of human
> rights has focused more on legal repression than on legal
> discrimination--the penalization of homosexuality outside Europe
> rather than the exclusion of gays and lesbians from rights of marriage
> and adoption within Europe.
> Conversely, the Europeanization of sexual democracy has fueled
> reactive nationalisms, not only in those countries that are bound to
> remain on the margins of Europe, such as the Maghreb, but also in
> recent E.U. members--regarding homosexuality in particular, for
> example, in Poland or Lithuania. How are European and non-European
> sexual politics reconfigured in this new context, i.e. what are the
> political consequences, in various countries within and outside of
> Europe, of this geopolitical context?
> We invite all those interested to submit a one-page abstract and a CV by:
> September 1, 2010.
> Abstracts as well as questions can be sent to: Robert Davidson
> (R.J.Davidson at uva.nl)
> Organizing Committee: Laurens Buijs, Sébastien Chauvin, Robert
> Davidson, Jan Willem Duyvendak, Eric Fassin, Paul
> Mepschen, Rachel Spronk, Bregje Termeer, and Oscar Verkaaik
> Organizing Institutions:
> Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality, UvA
> Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire Sur Les Enjeux Sociaux, 
> EHESS, Paris
> Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, UvA
> Research Cluster Dynamics of Citizenship and Culture, UvA
> Research Centre for Religion and Society, UvA
> Research Cluster Health, Care, and the Body, UvA

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