Recreating Outsiders: A Response to LGBT-Identity Politics

Recreating Outsiders

A Response to LGBT-Identity Politics

 

In the last weeks CTDC has noticed two major news topics, which have gathered considerable attention centred around Islam and LGBT ‘subjects’: the first, resistance by Muslim parents to ‘No outsiders’ LGBT state education in the UK school system; and the second, recent anti-LGBT state legislation in Brunei. Both topics featured widely in UK media citing Islam as the core ‘problem’ in discrimination against LGBT ‘subjects’: framing LGBT as victims and Muslims as perpetrators. The simplistic narrative consisting of only two ‘identities’ scapegoats a faith to whitewash structures of oppression. The uncritical engagement with both stories across social media platforms further evidences the levels of anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK. Oppression does not take place in a void, rather even seemingly local oppression falls within global structures of oppression. Therefore, these are not the only news topics which have perpetuated anti-Muslim sentiments, nor will they be the last, but addressing violence in the UK and globally against any marginalised group is necessary in dismantling oppression for all marginalised people whether on the grounds of race, religion, class, gender, sexuality, nationality or dis/ability.

Earlier this month, Brunei made global headlines after passing new legislation, which punishes same-sex practices with stoning to death. Western activists, politicians, celebrities and journalists alike have emphasised the ‘Sharia’ (Islamic) nature of the law emphasising a red line crossed and encouraging boycotts of the Sultan’s hotels across the world. It is necessary, however, to examine the roots of legislation against same-sex practice: colonialism. Britain introduced Section 377[1], the first sodomy law, across the Empire in order to ‘civilise’ and control the behaviours of its colonial subjects. This colonial legislation defined and controlled understandings of decency, body, rape and sodomy, a legacy which is often ‘forgotten’ but legacy reverberates today across the Global South. Underlining the discussions around the case of Brunei and other former colonies with Muslim majorities is a silence around the colonial legacy of sodomy laws, the emphasis is instead placed solely on Islam.

The singling out of oppressed groups is used by the state to manipulate and pit groups against each other; this is reflected throughout history, such as in a context of colonialism. In discussions around marginalised groups the aim should be to locate the powerful in order to fight against structures of oppression. Identity politics is not resistance to power, it is a mechanism of power: constructed to present the idea that ‘identities’ are compartmentalised and by virtue of this, ‘identities’ (e.g. race and class) compete with each other. This serves the interests of those in power because it prevents unified struggles against structures of oppression.

In parallel to the case of Brunei, UK media (and subsequent social media) discourse around the backlash to the UK’s new ‘No Outsiders’ LGBT curriculum has led to similar anti-Muslim tropes symptomatic of identity politics. The curriculum initiated by the UK government to tackle LGBT related discrimination from a young age, according to curriculum designer, aimed to target certain groups’ LGBT discrimination namely Muslim communities with particular focus on schools in Birmingham. ‘No Outsiders’ ironically was designed to shed light on a single marginalisation, in doing so it: (1) compartmentalises identity by addressing one oppressed group; (2) perpetuates the idea marginalisation can be ‘solved’ without structural change, reflecting an identity politics. In delivering a curriculum that focuses on one oppressed ‘identity’ the UK state does not undo oppression but rearticulates it.

Intersectionality, on the other hand, pushes us to have a nuanced understanding of different peoples’ different experiences of oppression according to their gender, sex, class, ethnicity and race. On this note, we should reject singular notions, claims and myths around peoples’ identities, we emphasise the underlining relation between different oppressions and the importance to deconstruct marginalised and unheard voices when discussing injustice. Structures of oppressions should not be understood in isolation in the way the UK media and wider discussions in the Global North portray and monopolise LGBT ‘subjects’, like in the cases of the UK and Brunei, to push certain agendas.

CTDC believes in education that teaches against oppression, and to this end believes in linking LGBT-related oppression to other struggles in order to account for how different systems of oppression (based on class, race, ability or sexuality) intersect to shape our experiences. Structures like patriarchy, neopatriarchy and capitalism. Distinguishing between fighting an oppression and fighting against oppression is important here. Whilst the UK fights LGBT oppression, it reproduces anti-Muslim oppression, whereas groups like Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners or Lesbian and Gays Support the Migrants fight against oppression as a system. The history of the UK in reproducing oppressions both at home and in colonies is symbolised in the anti-LGBT legacy across its former empire. And, whilst efforts made to address LGBT oppression in the UK are underway, we should remember who continues to be ignored and marginalised through global structures of oppression.

[1]Gupta, A. (2008). This Alien Legacy | The Origins of “Sodomy” Laws in British Colonialism. [online] Human Rights Watch. Available at: https://www.hrw.org/report/2008/12/17/alien-legacy/origins-sodomy-laws-british-colonialism [Accessed 18 Apr. 2019].

 

Feminist Studies Mentorship Programme

Feminist Studies Mentorship Programme

 

In its sixth year of operations, CTDC has decided to formalise its mentorship programme, through opening this call for applications for Feminist Studies Mentorship. The programme, set to begin in October 2019, is designed to further CTDC’s goal to produce intersectional multidisciplinary feminist knowledge, through an approach that is both academic and grassroots-centred. We pride ourselves in our ethical feminist values and practice and central to our practice is a feminist politics of care. We see this as an opportunity to share and grow with allies, and we believe that learning is a process of exchanging knowledges.

To this end, CTDC is offering six candidates free one-year supervision, with the possibility of extension, and that will include, as appropriate:

– Monthly one-to-one supervisory meetings,

– Academic writing support and guidance,

– Opportunities for co-authorship and publications,

– Opportunities for research dissemination.

Mentorship will be provided directly by CTDC’s co-founders and co-directors, Dr Nour Abu-Assab and Dr Nof Nasser-Eddin, each based on their research interests. The themes we are mostly interested in for this year include:

– Class, Capitalism and Neoliberalism,

– Decoloniality and Decolonising Methods,

– Feminist Knowledge Production,

– Feminist Methodologies,

– Feminist Political Theory and Governance,

– Gender Performances, Masculinities and Femininities,

– Identity Politics,

– Informal Education and Pedagogy,

– Intersectionality in Theory and Practice,

– Language and Translation,

– Minorities and Marginalised Communities,

– Movement Building and Mobilising,

– Queer Theory and Methodologies,

– Race, Ethnicities and Nationalisms,

– Refugeehood, Migration and Displacement,

– Sexualities,

– Social Justice: Reproductive, Sexual and Gender Justice,

– Sociology of Religion,

– Transnationalism.

For this programme, CTDC welcomes applications from individuals with research interests that align with ours and are not necessarily affiliated with academic institutions. The programme is targeting early career and junior researchers and those interested in pursuing research, whether in formal or informal institutions, in civil society organisations or independent scholars operating outside the confinements of institutions. Women and non-normative people from the Global South, and particularly from Arabic-speaking countries, are encouraged to apply.

Applications will be assessed based on merit and relevance to the centre’s knowledge production strategy. Applicants must submit a curriculum vitae and a statement of interest, in Arabic or English, to info@ctdc.orgby July 31, 2019. The statement of interest must be a minimum of one page and a maximum of two pages. The following questions are meant to guide you in the writing of the statement of interest:

– In what way do you expect this programme to benefit your work, studies and/or career?

– What is your main research idea and how does it fit within CTDC’s research interests?

– How do your research interests fit under the umbrella of feminist studies?

– What type of support do you expect to receive from CTDC’s co-directors?

– In what way is your area of interest relevant to your community?

– What social, political or economic problems do you seek to address through research?

– What are the ethical considerations relevant to your area of interest?

– What resources do you have available for research? (Fieldwork funding, funded studentship, research assistance, libraries, university resources).

– What can we learn from you?

Institutions interested in engaging with this programme, either through co-mentorship or through offering their students and/or staff this opportunity, can get in touch through info@ctdc.orgfor more details, including costs and level of institutional engagement.