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.

Call for Papers: Decolonising Knowledge around Gender and Sexuality

In collaboration with University College London and Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research, CTDC is delighted to publish its call for papers for its third annual conference, under the title Decolonising Knowledge around Gender and Sexuality. The conference will aim to address issues and challenges related to producing knowledge around gender and sexuality transnationally, with a focus on the Global South, through a decolonial lens. Through acknowledging that discourse-making is a political endeavour, we aim to question the epistemological and ontological grounding of research as praxis, not as mere pursuit of knowledge, learning, and education. For the full call for papers click here.

We are seeking papers by academics, grassroots activists, organisations and practitioners from the Global South, that speak to one or more of the following thematic areas within the fields of gender and sexuality studies:

  • Positionality and Intersectionality: How do our identities, multiple belongings and experiences influence our choice of research, its conduct and practice? How does our positionality influence the type of knowledge we produce around gender and sexuality? How can we produce knowledge around gender and sexuality that is genuinely reflexive, intersectional and decolonial
  • Decolonising Methods and Methodologies: How can we apply decoloniality to our choice of methods and methodologies? How can we decolonise traditional research methods, such as interviews, surveys and ethnographic research? How can we research and produce knowledge around gender and sexuality without using western frameworks for knowledge production? How can we turn around the ‘researcher versus researched’ dichotomy in our research practice?
  • Uses and Abuses of Indigenous Knowledge: How is indigenous knowledge being used within academic institutions? How is indigenous knowledge being utilised outside academic institutions? Why is there a need in the first place to produce indigenous knowledge and who does it inform?
  • Decolonising language and terminologies: How can we use ‘native’ language as a tool to decolonise knowledge produced around gender and sexuality? How do Universalist gender and sexual rights discourses, languages and terminologies contribute to cultural imperialism and structural violence in the Global South? What is the role of language and terminologies in influencing the production of localised knowledges in the Global South?
  • Decolonising Academic Institutions: How do academic institutions in the Global North contribute to cultural imperialism? How is knowledge produced in the West about gender and sexuality creating semi-realities and discourses around the Global South? How are academic institutions in the West complicit in creating hegemonies and hierarchies around ‘valuable’ knowledge?
  • Decolonial Research Ethics: How can we produce research and knowledge around gender and sexuality in the Global South that is ethical? To whose benefit are we producing knowledge around gender and sexuality in the Global South? Are we imposing terminologies and categories through research? Are we co-producing knowledge around gender and sexuality in the Global South? And how can we co-produce knowledge around gender and sexuality with grassroots and local voices?

Submission

We invite contributors, including activists, academics and practitioners, to submit abstracts of no more than 350 words by July 30, 2018. Please send your abstract and your short biography to info@ctdc.org. When submitting your abstract please point to which of the abovementioned themes your paper falls. We accept submissions in Arabic, English and French. Following the conference, selected papers from the conference will be featured in a special issue in Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research. Subject to funding availability, we may be able to fund some travel costs, please email for more information.

End All Forms of Violence Against Women: CTDC Video for 16 Days of Activism

There are different forms of violence practised against women everyday casually, at home, on the streets and in all ways of life. It is important to stand up against all forms of violence against women and raise awareness.
هنالك أنواع مختلفة من العنف الممارس ضد النساء يومياً وبشكل “اعتيادي” في المنزل وفي الشوارع وفي كل مناحي الحياة،. من المهم مجابهة كل أنواع العنف ضد النساء وزيادة الوعي.
#16daysofactivism #endviolenceagainstwomen

Improving Service Provision for Non-Normative Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the UK: A Policy Brief

This policy brief focuses on services currently available for non-normative refugees and asylum seekers across the United Kingdom. It illustrates the gaps in service provision, and provides recommendations on how to fill these gaps. The brief shows how legal support is broadly available to non-normative refugees, but there is a lack of collaborative, widespread psychosocial support upon entry to the UK. Drawing on CTDC’s work and research in the Middle East and North Africa region, this brief also highlights the challenges facing non-normative refugees from Arabic speaking countries in particular, as well as recommendations to meet the needs of this group in the UK. You can access the full policy brief here.

Crackdown on Non-Normative People in Egypt

On 22 September 2017, the rainbow flag was raised during a Mashrou’ Leila concert in Cairo, Egypt. Following this, the Egyptian state has conducted an aggressive crackdown on individuals suspected to be members of the LGBT community. This crackdown has seen widespread human rights violations, at the hands of Egyptian authorities, including detentions without trial, torture and instances of ‘anal testing’ to determine the detainee’s sexuality. In total, 62 individuals have been arrested for ‘promoting sexually deviant activities’. Many of the arrests have taken place following police infiltration of alleged LGBT ‘safe spaces’, such as clubs and bars. This crackdown has also extended to online platforms, with many people taking to social media to hunt down, bully and harass those suspected of as ‘LGBT’. The police has also utilised dating applications, such as Grindr, and Facebook to find individuals with non-normative genders and sexualities. The situation is at a critical stage, and looks set to worsen in the coming weeks, if policy makers, diplomats and international media take no action against the government. Read our policy brief for further details.

Tackling Honour Killings through Sexual and Gender Rights Advocacy: Recommendations for Policy and Practice

Honour killing is a term used to denote a form of gender-based violence in which women, often young and unmarried, are brutally murdered by family members for being allegedly involved in illicit sexual practices, therefore dishonouring herself and her family. There is no accurate or current data on honour killings statistics in the Middle East and North Africa due to their unreported and often overlooked nature, and the refusal of continued governments to address the issue.

This policy brief will introduce the notion of honour killings, and highlight key obstacles and recommendations in tackling this long-standing issue throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This brief will also highlight some of the ways in which honour killings – because of their reliance on gender and sexual taboos – can be incorporated into broader sexual and gender rights advocacy strategies.

 

Conceptualising Sexualities in the MENA: Policy Brief

This policy brief builds on the arguments and conclusions set out in CTDC’s publication titled Conceptualising Sexualities in the MENA Region: Undoing LGBTQI Categories. In this document, we compliment this extensive, research-led paper by setting out a number of concrete recommendations for practitioners, policy makers and activists from the region working to improve the situation facing, non-normative people commonly referred to as LGBTQI peoples. In light of the key challenges facing this group, which include sexual, physical and mental violence, economic marginalisation, homelessness, poor sexual health service provisions and, in instances of displacement, barriers to international protection, we stress the need for research to map on to practice. Click here for the full policy brief.

Conceptualising Sexualities in the MENA Region: Undoing LGBTQI Categories

Conceptualising Sexualities in the MENA Region

Conceptualising Sexualities in the MENA Region

There have been many attempts to address gender and sexual rights in the MENA region, a majority of which have focused on women’s empowerment and gender equality. More recently the rights of LGBTQI people have taken centre stage in development efforts and in the agendas of policy makers. This report highlights some major problems in the frameworks underpinning these efforts, despite their well-meant intentions. In this report, we shed light on the implications of adopting universalist LGBTQI identity categories within international humanitarian and development programming. Furthermore, this report highlights how LGBTQI identity categories often encourage tensions within and between communities, and even within communities of non-normative people, often undermining the space for change and collaboration on the one hand, and inclusivity on the other. This report also highlights the failure of international protection mechanisms to offer adequate support to those displaced due to non-normative sexual practices. The LGBTQI categories in case of applications for asylum is also problematized in this paper, as it has proven to be exclusionary to those at risk of SPGP violence but who do not necessarily identify as LGBTQI. Current international protection mechanisms have also to a great extent contributed to an image of a uniform LGBTQI identity, an identity that fits within stereotypes of non-normative people. Within these identities, there is a lack of tolerance for difference and an implication of uniformity that does not apply to all of the letters of the LGBTQI. Within this report there is also a country overview of the legal situation affecting LGBTQI people across the region. Click Here for the Full Report.