British Association for South Asian Studies

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29 April 2019

Queer Elsewheres

Symposium Date: October 17th, 48th Annual Conference on South Asia. Madison, WI

Call for Papers: Due May 15th


Queer Elsewheres: A Symposium on South Asian Imaginaries

What can we bring to queer epistemologies and methodologies when we move across physical, geopolitical and conceptual boundaries? In this symposium, we would like to draw attention to the journeys of queer, trans, hijra, khwaja sira, thirunangai, and gender nonconforming subjects and scholars to and from less-frequented settings in and around South Asia––with particular attention to places like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka––which in their marginality are rendered as “elsewhere” in queer scholarship.

Centering performative and narrative modes of reflexivity in the literary, visual and performing arts, we explore what meanings adhere to queerness in its travels, and what happens when it takes on life in underrepresented or under-considered historical, geopolitical, conceptual and cultural locations (Amin 2017:183). We ask: What does it mean to respond from a “here” to queer discourses and practices “elsewhere”? What possibilities emerge when we engage fields and temporalities that count as not-here/not-yet-here, and what are the sensorial and affective dimensions, ethical issues and methodological limits of such travels? What makes up “queer” in a particular place and time? And, in particular, how might we disrupt Queer Studies’ analytical habits––or recontour the term itself––as we vision, revision, and generate scholarships from unlikely, imaginal, or even otherworldly elsewheres? Heeding the call for non-Euro-American epistemes to address the political intersections of queer and area studies (Arondekar and Patel 2016), we further consider the role that our respective fields of academic and artistic practices play in mapping the institutional terrain of queer epistemic power.


This symposium aims to bring together scholars of different academic and artistic disciplines to illuminate the ways in which conceptual, theoretical, physical and embodied manifestations of space and place intersect with gender, sexuality, race, religion, and other axes of identity in South Asia. Foregrounding performative and narrative modes of reflexivity, scholars and artists will illuminate the ways in which space and place sustain and resist specific relationships, studies and engagements in the field and in academic institutionality. We intend to use the symposium as an opportunity to generate responsive and dialogic critiques through a range of formats, including panels, performances, roundtable discussions, video installations, exhibitions, and informal conversations in a safe, supportive, LGBTQIA+ affirmative environment. This Queer Symposium follows the release of a Special Forum published in the Fall 2018 issue of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, which features a diverse collection of essays from a multigenerational contingent of participants of previous Queer Symposia (formerly Pre-conferences) held in 2016 and 2017 at the Annual Conference on South Asia. We intend for this year’s Queer Symposium to be just as fruitful, bringing another opportunity for us to assemble contemporary thought and work in and around places that are less frequented yet nonetheless critical to queer South Asian scholarship.


Performances, lecture-demonstrations, art works, films and papers should be critical in their orientation, and may delve theoretically into the fields and politics of gender, sexuality, race, class/caste, religion, language, social change, nationalism, globalization, international policy, performance, education, and other areas. Proposals that engage with the symposium’s thematic focus on "queer elsewheres" will receive the highest priority. Developed works as well as works in progress are strongly encouraged, as are budding thoughts or questions in the areas listed above. Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to the Queer Symposium Team (jeff.roy@live.com) by May 15th. Please include "Queer Symposium 2019 submission" in the subject line. Late submissions will not be considered. Decisions will be made and sent out approximately two weeks after the due date.