In this book talk, Gopinath draws on her recently published book Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora, to identify a “queer regional imaginary” in the works of contemporary artists Akram Zaatari and Sheba Chhacchi. She foregrounds the category of the region –in both its sub-national and supra-national senses– in a queer diasporic frame in order to produce a new mapping of space and sexuality; this alternative mapping rejects dominant cartographies that either privilege the nation-state or that cast into shadow all those spaces, and gender and sexual formations, deemed without value within the map of global capital. Gopinath discusses the Beirut-based queer artist Akram Zaatari’s excavation of subnational regional photographic archives, in conjunction with Delhi-based artist Sheba Chhacchi’s installation Winged Pilgrims (2007), which disrupts area studies framings of “Asia” by mapping supranational histories of encounter and exchange that entirely provincialize the global north. Both works represent a queer incursion into area studies, where a queer regional imaginary instantiates alternative cartographies and spatial logics that allow for other histories of global affiliation and affinity to emerge.
Gayatri Gopinath is Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU. She works at the intersection of transnational feminist and queer studies, postcolonial studies, and diaspora studies, and is the author of Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Duke UP, 2005), and Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora (Duke UP, 2018). She has published numerous essays on gender, sexuality, and queer diasporic cultural production in journals such as Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, GLQ, Social Text, positions, and Diaspora.
The credit on the image should read: “Anonymous,” from Hashem El Madani: Studio Practices, courtesy of Akram Zaatari and Arab Image Foundation.