USA

arvan's picture

This is a comment on some things in Indian politics and US politics.

I’m not from India nor did I ever vacation there.  I don’t take yoga and I don’t own the Kama Sutra (why bother, when I can download it for free, anyway?)  So, I’m not an expert and I’m probably more wrong than right.  No cookies for pointing that out.  That said, here goes anyway.

Recently - Arundhati Roy agreed to write an introductory essay to “Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical edition by B.R. Ambedkar" which she titled, "The Doctor and the Saint: An introduction”.  Hindu nationalists like the BJP love to get their outrage underpants all bunched up whenever Roy does anything other than keep her mouth shut, basically.  Roy’s introduction to Ambedkar’s work may cause Hindu nationalists like the BJP to be outraged that she dare to say anything that is anti-Hindu (which is basically anything that is not unquestioningly pro-Hindu/BJP). The BJP is for all intents and purposes, India’s GOP.  So, their outrage comes as no surprise for her association with a speech that Ambedkar wrote to challenge progressive Hindus on their own desire to reap the benefits of caste are antithetical to their stated organizational goals and perpetuating the targeted oppression of lower castes.  

Ms. Roy is fairly leftist, challenging empire, corporate-military capitalism, caste and so - she’s an easy and constant target for people born into wealth and status and whose bank accounts seem to do very well when the ultra-nationalist BJP gets their way.  

Bekhsoos's picture

Call For LGBT Papers!

Call for Papers (in English/French/Spanish)

Deadline:  December 15, 2010

LGBT/Queer Studies:

Toward Trans/national Scholarly and Activist Kinships

An International Conference

Madrid, Spain

July 3, 4, and 5, 2011

Note:  Gay Pride is July 2 in Madrid

Organized by the LGBT Studies Program & Minor

Chancellor’s Leadership Project

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY, USA

We invite scholars and activists to join in an exploration of the methods, possibilities, challenges, and dangers of doing LGBT/queer scholarship, activism, pedagogy, and curriculum in a transnationalized and technologically mediated world. We want to address the many challenges of understanding and responding to the complexly lived lives of queer subjects, as they are shaped by local and global upheavals and opportunities. What does the ‘transnational’ mean? How are queer lives rendered visible and legible and affectively accessible? What matrices of power make some queer figures more visible than others? What new forms of scholarship and activism emerge as people, images, ideas, and capital move in rapid, uneven, and complex ways across national borders? How might practices of kinships, however tense or contingent, happen? How does, or should, the transnational turn shape our pedagogies and curricula? And how do we connect and collaborate as scholars and activists across the globe? These are messy knowledges, nuanced knowledges, framed by the local and the global in complicated and often surprising ways.

We are interested in a truly global conversation, and encourage submissions about and from all over the world. We hope too to produce some form of publication out of the conference.

Possible topics:

Representing the complexities of everyday queer lives

Working with queer archives and memory

Analyzing gay imperialism

Designing pedagogies and curricula

Sustaining scholarly relationships across borders

Engaging with queer suffering and activism across borders

Studying legal and political responses to queer suffering

Queer media and literature

Exploring queer diasporas and homonationalisms

Writing queer histories

Analyzing queer labor and immigration

Responding to the challenges of translation and access

We invite scholars and activists to submit paper proposals (no more than 500 words) or complete panels (of no more than three papers) that address questions like these from various perspectives. English is the primary language of the conference, and we will accept submissions in Spanish and French. Please submit paper proposals or panel proposals electronically <http://www.transnationalizinglgbt.com/index.php/madrid-conference/papers>

Please feel free to contact Margaret Himley (mrhimley@syr.edu> ) or Andrew London (anlondon@maxwell.syr.edu), co-directors of the LGBT Studies Program and Minor at Syracuse University, for more information or with thoughts or questions about this conference/workshop.

Christina Engela's picture

Yes, He Can

The last few days has given me some things to think about. The recent cabinet reshuffle in SA seems, so far at least, to be something to be glad about. Lulu was reposted somewhere else, away from arts and culture, presumably where she won't be able to criticize and condemn works of art as "pornography" and "anti-family", and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba was also "redeployed", hopefully where either of them could cause further trouble by pushing their xenophobic religious fundamentalist agendas.
 
I wonder if Errol Naidoo is happy with the cabinet reshuffle? I would love to be a fly on the wall in his office in Parliament Street! Since his main contact in Home Affairs has now been moved somewhere else, I mean. I guess getting all those juicy right wing homophobic Bills shoveled into Parliament will be a little harder now. Whoops.
 
On the other hand, there are already several Bills lying on the table in Parliament, Bills which threaten the civil rights of Joe Public and - like that other nasty piece of legislation in Uganda, they are awaiting legislation, pending the outcome of decisions which will presumably be made while taking media and international public reaction into account. Of course, certain kinds of people judge the morality of - well, a morality law - by how many lives can be destroyed, or by how many people they don't like can be killed by it.
 
We need to keep an eye on religious fundamentalists, you see, they bear watching. Close watching, or before you know it, they will legislate all kinds of nasty little religious laws into effect, and then claim they were legitimately passed even though they were never publicly approved, or even opened for public discussion or input. One morning you will wake up and suddenly you won't be allowed to open your shop on a Sunday, or hear or see anything but religious programming on TV and radio. The internet will be restricted, and possibly you might need a licence to access it, just like those ridiculous TV licenses the SA public still get ripped off with by the SABC. (Did you know you used to have to pay a radio license before that? Interesting fact. But wait, now I'm giving away my age.)
Christina Engela's picture

Community Building

Recently I wrote about cohesion in our pink community, and over the weekend I was again faced with the exact opposite. Some trans-women seem to feel that I have been remiss in campaigning for transgender rights and focusing only on gay rights. They feel, as I do - that there are some rather prominent advocacy groups, some of them advertising that they stand for all GLBTI rights, some not - and that these groups are abandoning trans people.

A prime examples of this is the ENDA (Employee Non Discrimination Act) in the USA, which has failed to pass in the past - and from which transgender rights were conveniently removed by some of our gay allies in order to see that the act had a "better chance" of passing. Hmm. I have to point out that (duh) this is not the act of an ally. The dust around this issue still has not settled, and I wait with bated breath to see how it goes down.

Another infamous example of exclusion and working against community unity is the UK group "Stonewall" which deigns to take the name of that holy grail of GLBTI rights and sullies it by excluding the transgender and intersex communities, and catering only for the benefit of gay rights. They do a very good job of gay rights advocacy, kudos to them for that - but shame on them for not caring a damn about the trans and intersex people - and refusing even to provide them a counseling service, information, or even to stand up for their rights while standing up for their own! Stonewall UK is a large group with a loud voice, and the T and I in GLBTI are left to fend for themselves. I am frequently disgusted whenever I am reminded of this by their one-dimensional advertising and informational campaigns.
Christina Engela's picture

It's A Small World, After All

When Uganda tabled its Bill which would effectively have instituted the death penalty for homosexuality and a pink genocide, many countries applied great pressure to Uganda to drop the Bill. So far this Bill has been put on hold, yet in Uganda gay people still face an existing law which prescribes a 14-year prison term simply for being gay - just as in Malawi and several other countries.

Malawi has just this week rewarded a gay couple with the maximum prison term for loving each other - 14 years hard labor, a potential - and even likely death sentence in such a prison. The world has begun to apply pressure on Malawi because of this human rights abuse, but the question remains - how much pressure will they apply, and what will happen if Malawi doesn't budge?

Will the outcome of this issue encourage other African states to say "oh well, Malawi didn't give the West what they wanted, they didn't give in - and nothing happened to them. They're still getting aid"? Will this encourage Uganda to pass the Bill and thumb their noses at their donors as if their bark is worse than their bite - as one does to a dog without teeth?

Gay people in Africa are living in fear. And why should gay people in Africa not be afraid? Today it is illegal to be gay in aproximately 38 countries in Africa, with many countries applying lengthy jail terms as well as a measure of draconian homphobia in laws and society. Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia, as is the case in Malawi and most other African countries. The only country on the continent of Africa which has laws protecting the human and civil rights of sexual minorities, is South Africa - a country whose government, has to date not once spoken out against human rights abuses and violations in any other African state - and which continues to do business with and even to support their governments.
Christina Engela's picture

Shifting Blame

The "culture war", now more than 30 years old - today is far from the obscure reference cloaked and made fun of by the little quotation marks which try to create the impression that the culture war is a euphemism and not really a war at all. The truth is very different, because when people's lives are destroyed through the actions of other people - even people on the other side of the planet, even without the use of conventional weapons - and when people die - it is a war in every real sense of the word.

Far from fading out over time, it is a war that has escalated if anything - and now employs advanced weapons such as the internet, science, medicine, psychology and multimedia - along with more traditional hardware like covert operations, surveillance, intelligence, counter-intelligence, propaganda, politics, dirty tricks, entrapment, investigative journalism, expose's, espionage, infiltration - and denial.

In the past, if you were Black, you faced serious levels of discrimination, intolerance and prejudice in many countries. That has changed a lot in the past century or two - to a point where the civil rights movement seems to have taken on a paradigm shift from focusing on race and eugenics to more subtle shades of sexual orientation and gender identity. These days, if you are gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex - it is certain that you will run the gauntlet with prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence on a regular basis.

There is the saying that goes "pink is the new black" - and nowhere is this more evident than on the continent of Africa. Those who are both Black and gay and living in Africa - well... to put it politely - you're between a rock and a hard place.
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