EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution


Same-sex sexualities and ethnic minorities in Europe (Network for the Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality and the European Network for Queer Anthropology)

Location S-420
Date and Start Time 02 August, 2014 at 09:00


Wim Peumans (University of the Witwatersrand) email
Luca Bartozzi (Birkbeck College, University of London) email
Linda Sólveigar Guðmundsdóttir (University of Iceland) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

In an effort to further queer our understandings of diaspora and ethnicity, the panel aims to focus on ethnographic research on same-sex sexualities and ethnic minorities in Europe and is interested in diasporic queers' participation in queer spaces, and particularly in forms of activism.

Long Abstract

Within several European countries the acceptance of same-sex sexuality has become a litmustest for newcomers, especially where it concerns the opinions of Muslims on the topic. In political, public and media debates the so-called homophobic and conservative Muslim is frequently played out against the enlightened, homotolerant European. Within LGBT and Queer Studies, sexual non-normativity has often been represented in delimiting and restrictive ways as white, middle-class, male, secular and belonging to a particular nation-state. Increasingly scholars have focused same-sex sexualities, migration and ethnicity in a European context, although an anthropological approach is often missing from this body of scholarship.

This panel looks at the multiple modalities in which same-sex sexualities exist within ethnic, migrant and diasporic minorities in Europe. It seeks to bring together scholars whose research projects focus on the lives and lived experiences of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer persons with ethnic minority or diasporic backgrounds. The panel welcomes academics who interrogate the performance and embodiment of sexual subjectivities in a context of (cultural) racism, discrimination, homo - and heteronormativity and is interested in diasporic queers' participation in homonormative queer spaces, and particularly in forms of activism, resistance and collaboration (such as gay pride parades for example). The panel questions how such research theoretically and epistemologically challenges concepts from LGBT and Queer Studies (for example, coming out).

The panel is affiliated with the Network for the Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality (NAGS) and the European Network for Queer Anthropology (ENQA).

Chair: Mark Graham
Discussant: Mark Graham

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Nationalism, equality and neoliberal hegemony in France: from materialist anthropology's perspective

Author: Gianfranco Rebucini (EHESS/CNRS)  email

Short Abstract

From a materialist perspective, I will stress the fact that in

nationalist and homonationalist rhetoric about sexual rights, equality

far from being a mere abstract ideal, is in fact a hegemonic apparatus

of the neoliberal capitalist society.

Long Abstract

The homonationalist policies of the gay and lesbian mainstream groups,

of right wing political parties, or of the state in France, are often

mistaken as the result of an instrumentalization of GLB demands for

equal rights for racist or nationalist purposes. But this idea of

misappropriation is essentially based on an abstract and unproblematic

conception of equality.

In this communication, I would suggest an analysis from a Gramscian and

a materialist point of view. From an ethnographical perspective, I will

stress the fact that equality far from being a mere abstract ideal, is

in fact an hegemonic apparatus that is materialized both in civil

society (eg. demands for sexual equality), in political society (eg.

french rethoric discourses on equality) and in the economic world (eg.

demands for gender parity in wages), dialectically constituted. The

nationalist rethoric over sexual equal rights could therefore be

analyzed not only as the result of a political identity or a cultural

policy of inclusion in citizenship and in the body of the nation for

homonormative subjects (Puar 2007), but as the result of a particular

social and historical dynamics. If one knows, like Gramsci shows it to

us, that hegemony is a historical process that takes place and is

reproduced in the dialectical relationship between the economic world,

(the material social relations), the politics, and the culture, we could

analyze equality, and policies that claim for it, as a crucial element

of a contemporary neoliberal hegemony's redefinition in the capitalist


Understanding LGBTQ inter-ethnic sociality in London

Author: Luca Bartozzi (Birkbeck College, University of London)  email

Short Abstract

This paper aims to ethnographically explore inter-ethnic sociality in London LGBTQ 'targeted' sites via the lens of sexual health outreach, while focussing on the instances and dynamics in which encounters exceed outreach communication, opening up to spaces of potentiality.

Long Abstract

Considering cultural participation sites in LGBTQ London, within the range of such spaces as 'urban' and 'world' club nights, particular religious groups and bath-houses, subjects from 'ethnic minorities' background or descent who articulate same-sex desire, appear to be explicitly and implicitly targeted in various capacities and exclusively addressed to as either particularly 'ethnic-bound', or in absence, as 'assimilated' Londoners.

Within the context of HIV/sexual health outreach in the aforementioned sites, ethnographic research is employed to 'queer' the regulation of embedded norms in 'admission's policies', 'dress code', 'target grouping' and 'outreach action', as normative tools enforced through contemporary technologies of containment. Participant observation in HIV prevention outreach reveals an opening to the potentiality of everyday interaction occurring in the 'peri-performative' (Sedgwick, 2003) space of these sites, where communication's normative objectives are not met.

Referring to critiques of 'epidemiological' and 'tropical' approaches in the understanding of HIV and migratory patterns (Patton, 2000), this paper proposes to look beyond the lens of sexual health in order to critique the ways bodies are hierarchically positioned in relation to each other during outreach activity. Therefore, I juxtapose a 'queer diasporic', intersectionally informed analysis (ibid.) to the prioritisation of lines of difference as exclusive to one another.

Lastly, this paper aims to challenge the institutionalisation of such spaces through hegemonic discourses around safety, suspicion and surveillance, by focussing on the potential ways encounters exceed the targeting model, through 'flesh'. (Esposito, 2002)

Constesting racism, claiming for inclusion: post-migrants' same-sex intimacies in northern Italy

Author: Dany Carnassale (University of Padova, Italy)  email

Short Abstract

The research deals with the everyday life of post-migrant individuals having same-sex intimacies and their relationships with homonormative spaces in northern Italy.

Long Abstract

The Italian political agenda shows a conservative climate both toward same-sex marriage and ethnic minorities' rights, whereas in the framework of mainstreaming LGBTIQ activism little attention is given to the intersections between racial and gender-based discriminations.

The proposed research explores everyday situations lived by post-migrant people having same-sex desires and intimacies. The fieldwork is carried out in northern Italy through in-depht interviews and focuses mainly on people coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, Maghreb and the Middle East.

The research looks at different trajectories of migrants who self-identify as LGBTIQ individuals and those who reject these labels. The majority of interviewees declare to flee from perceived homo/transphobic countries, but as newcomers in Italy they constantly tackle against xenophobia, racism and homonormativity. Consequently, they are rarely committed to the so-called "promotion of LGBTIQ rights" or simply participate to LGBTIQ events. On the other hand, the fieldwork shows also the risks of marginalisation and stigmatisation experienced by some of them within their "ethnic" social networks for reasons linked to their sexual behaviours.

An anthropological approach underlines the importance to challenge our own representational categories on gender and sexuality (i.e. a person who engages same-sex acts does not consider necessarily a LGBTIQ person). It can also help LGBTIQ activists to analyse the "whiteness" of LGBTIQ policies and sheds light about misrepresentation, exclusion and oppression processes undergone by non-heterosexual individuals with a migration background.

Queer migrants in Iceland: outness, identity and belonging

Author: Linda Sólveigar Guðmundsdóttir (University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

This paper is based on a research which examines queer migrants' experiences of living in Iceland, and places them in a global and historical perspective. The study also examines participants' degree of outness, identity construction and sense of belonging.

Long Abstract

Significant legal advancements have taken place in Iceland in recent decades, regarding various issues relating to LGBTQ people, parallel to a dramatic change in general attitudes towards this particular minority group. Immigration has increased extensively over the past fifteen years in Iceland and despite the economic collapse, the number of residents with foreign citizenship has only decreased slightly.

This paper discusses preliminary findings, based on a research which seeks to examine whether living in Iceland makes it easier for queer migrants to deal with their sexual orientation. It analyses how issues relating to participants' gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality and class overlap and shape their experiences, through the migration process and their daily life. Additionally, the research examines participants' sense of belonging to various groups within Icelandic society.

Wekker (2006) maintains that it is necessary to take seriously the complexity, diversity and questions of power within LGBTQ cultures, and take into account the possibility that queer migrants might choose forms of sexual freedom that deviate from 'normative' representation.

This research is based on theories of intersectionality, bifocality, whiteness, identity management and belonging, as well as on writings on queer migration and queer diaspora. Participants are individuals of various national origins who identify themselves in some way as queer or at least as non-heterosexuals, and are first generation migrants living in Iceland. The study combines the fields of queer studies and migration studies, which is a novelty in the Icelandic context.

"I have a normal life in Temeswar and a gay life in Zurich!" Some notes on the multi local lifestyle of traveling gay escorts

Author: Peter Hoerz (Hochschule Esslingen)  email

Short Abstract

While queer mobility has been subject of the discourses in queer studies occasionally in recent years, the figure of the gay escort, who travels the world, is widely unknown. The paper aims to shed light on this multi local lifestyle.

Long Abstract

Careful observers of certain 'notorious' websites have already noticed: Among the male escorts who are offering their sexual services to interested same sex oriented men there is a growing number of professional sex workers, whose major characteristics is mobility. Coming from the periphery of the EU, Mexico or even Australia, these GBQ self-identified young men decide to go "on tour" for reasons which are corresponding with the urge to escape from the boredom and/or homophobia in their places of origin to temporarily join the open gay communities of the liberal and gay friendly countries in Central Europe. But since their access to the European labor markets is restricted, these trips can only be financed by professional sex work carried out at their travel destinations.

Based on multi sited ethnographic research, carried out in 2012/13, the paper aims to shed light on the multi local lifestyle of traveling escorts from an everyday perspective and to discuss it with respect to recent discourses on the "Circuits of Queer Mobility" (Puar). Taking into consideration the interrelations of class and economy, geopolitical contexts and queer sexualities, special attention will be given to the question if the trips of the mobile escorts necessarily guide them from "repression to liberation" (Luibhéid) and from social disintegration to social acceptance.

Queer Muslim migrants in Belgium: the transformation of sexual subjectivity through transnational migration

Author: Wim Peumans (University of the Witwatersrand)  email

Short Abstract

Based on an ethnographic research project on transnationalism, same-sex sexualities and religion in Belgium, the paper looks at the multiple transformations the sexual subjectivities of queer Muslim migrants undergo throughout the process of transnational migration.

Long Abstract

The paper discusses an ethnographic research project on same-sex sexualities, transnationalism and religion in Belgium. The aim is twofold. Firstly, in line with a growing body of scholarship within mobility studies sexuality is considered as one of the primary axes that structure migration. This further 'queers' our understanding of migration, or in other words questions the heteronormativity of mobility studies. Secondly, the project goes beyond the propensity of queer studies to focus on white, male, middle class, secular citizens belonging to a particular nation-state.

The paper looks at the multiple transformations the sexual subjectivities of queer Muslim migrants undergo throughout the process of transnational migration and the diverse ways these transformations are informed by neo-liberal state norms, discourses, ideologies and representations. Firstly, the author seeks to highlight the different modalities through which queer Muslim migrants negotiate silence and disclosure in the performance of sexuality in the asylum procedure. The argument is made that the difficulties asylum seekers encounter may be attributed to two issues: one the one hand differences in frameworks and moralities of gender, sexuality and subjecthood and on the other hand the intersectional dynamics between class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race on the other. Secondly, the author looks at queer migrants' involvement in queer spaces and more specifically queer activism and queer political strategies. He argues their strategies both reflect and undermine the hegemonic homonormative moral ideal, where coming out is seen as the pinnacle of queer subjectivity and agency.

The Vienna mix: the future of LGBT newcomers in Vienna

Author: Valentina Grillo  email

Short Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine the situation of LGBT among ethnic minorities in Vienna. The paper puts into question the principles of equality and tolerance through the case of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer with diasporic background.

Long Abstract

Vienna is largely recognised as a homotolerant European

city, where both LGBT organisations and migrant communities are well

established. In several public events LGBT and queer issues were

debated, ranging from exhibitions to manifestations. Ethnic minorities

result to be well integrated in Vienna and when this situation has been

threatened, Austrians did not hesitate to strengthen their voices.

Numerous demonstrations took place in the last years, especially in

2013, against the deportation of refugees and the socio-political

discrimination that many migrants experienced.

Despite being both issues addressed through effective channels, a

question remains at stake. Does Vienna provide a public domain where

non-Austrian LGBT are properly represented?

The aim of this paper is to evaluate whether it is possible to find in

Vienna a social place where LGBT newcomers have the possibility to be

socially active and participate in the political scenario. It will be,

at this point, important to take into consideration the experience of

Vienna Mix, an association organised to combine the representation of

LGBT migrants. The purpose of the paper is to understand the reasons for

which this experience resulted to be a failure.

Through the experience of activists engaged in both fields of migrants'

and LGBT's rights, the aim of this paper is to evaluate whether it could

be possible to identify other public spaces to represent the LGBT in the

community of ethnic minorities in the Austrian capital.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.