Tamara Hijazi ’17: “Queering the Body: the Construction, Colonization, and Fragmentation of the Body in the Arab Islamicate World” – April 20, 2017

The manner in which Islam and national culture have intersected through time and space is often disregarded when it comes to a feminist analysis of the Middle East, particularly Arab feminism. The dissection of the veil is a common basis for Western feminist theory analyzing the Arab world; the veil is constantly dissected as a form of empowerment (versus of oppression), of seclusion (versus of protection), of a component of imposed public politics (versus personal politics). It is the often what theorists look at when they seek to analyze queerness in the Arab Islamicate world – but I want to go even further. In my talk, I will look at how Arab Muslim bodies are queered beyond the veil, stepping away from static “Occident-and-Orient” deconstruction of the body. I will try to place Arab sexual minorities within their own cultural context and history. I want to answer: How is the queer body ultimately a constant reflection of the social societal mirror, never its own autonomous entity? How does our understanding of sexuality as a form of identity hinder our elimination of the colonization and appropriation of the body? How has the Arab Muslim body historically been queered in Western thought and discourse?

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