Queer Muslims: Identity & Sexuality in the Contemporary
This Ph.D. is an ethnographic-activist-based project. It first examines the genealogy of popular nationalist-statist and religious enforcements of postcolonial cisheteronormativity in Egypt through the examination of two case studies, the Cairo 52 case in 2001 and the transgendered case of Sally Abd Allah in 1982. It then presents my fieldwork, which documents my ethnographic narrators’ resistance to these narratives. Specifically, my fieldwork investigates the neocolonial/neoimperial conditions that inform the circulatory geopolitical relationship between Islam and queerness in non-Western societies such as franchise-colonial Egypt and settler-colonial U.S./Canada, in an age where sexual and gender diversity is a hallmark of neoliberal ‘secular’ modernity, whose advent historically exposed Arabs, North Africans, and Muslims, if not all non-Europeans, to a plethora of false competing dualisms, such as secular/religious and heterogeneity/homogeneity, as well as discourses such as homonationalism (al-qawmiyyat al-mīthlīyat) and pinkwashing (al-ghaseel al-banafsajiy). My fieldwork participants offer decolonial, gender-based, readings and formulations of queerness through their diverse and complex experiences, which evade the apparent tidiness of European feminist and narrow LGBTIQA categories that characterizes most Western/non-Western political queer scholarship. While the spiritual initiatives of diasporic queer Muslims clarifies the urgent need for a radical, decolonial, reinterpretation of Islam, the revolutionary participation of queer Egyptians in the so-called ‘Arab Spring/Islamist Winter’ offers crucial challenges to both discourses on gender/sexuality in the Middle East and academic and activist literatures on radical and revolutionary social action. In this dissertation, queer Egyptians, and queer Muslims in particular, appear as single theorists of radical political activity, not the co-opted and duped, colonized pawns of the ‘Gay Empire’. This exploration of queer interventions in revolutionary Egypt will force iii radical social theorists to consider postcolonial/decolonial queer politics as a primary basis for determining the shape and course of future revolutionary theory and praxis in this current xenophobic and Islamophobic geopolitical moment. Utilizing intersectional/assemblage based theories, I argue that strictly adopting sexual discourses, in the absence of accounting for colonialism/imperialism as well as engaging postcolonial, critical race and feminist discourses, is insufficient to narratively/analytically understand the dynamic nature of Arab and Muslim gender and sexualities in these Islamophobic conditions.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/26101
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