Lecture explores ‘queer regional imaginary’ in works of contemporary artists

An exploration of queer diaspora in the context of contemporary art will be the focus of the upcoming annual lecture presented by York University’s Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies and the Centre for Feminist Research.

The lecture, titled “Queer Archives, Regional Archives: The Unruly Visions of Sheba Chhachhi and Akram Zaatari,” takes place Sept. 13 from 3 to 5 p.m. at 626 Kaneff Tower.

Gayatri Gopinath
Gayatri Gopinath

Gayatri Gopinath, asssociate professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, and the director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University, will deliver the lecture and draw from her forthcoming book, Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora. 

During the talk, Gopinath will identify a “queer regional imaginary” in the works of contemporary artists Akram Zaatari and Sheba Chhacchi. Gopinath foregrounds the category of the region – in both its subnational and supranational 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 Zaatari’s excavation of subnational regional photographic archives, in conjunction with Delhi-based artist 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.

Gopinath works at the intersection of transnational feminist and queer studies, postcolonial studies and diaspora studies. She 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 and positions.

Light refreshments will be provided, and the talk will be followed by a reception. Please advise of allergies/dietary needs with RSVP. Kaneff Tower is not a scent-free environment.

The event is free to attend, and RSVPs should be sent to juliapyr@yorku.ca. There is more information on the Facebook event page.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Social Science, the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, the Sexuality Studies program and the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR).