[csaa-forum] REMINDER: Cultural Diversity & Communication Colloquium this Friday (Srila Roy, Shawna Tang, Sam Sperring)

Timothy Laurie Timothy.Laurie at uts.edu.au
Mon Sep 3 11:52:35 ACST 2018

Cultural Diversity and Communication Research Colloquium | Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (UTS)

Room: CB08.03.004 (UTS Broadway campus, Room 004, Level 3, Building 8 Chau Chak Wing Building, Ultimo Road)
Date: Friday, 07/09/2018
Time: 15:00-17:00

Convened by: Dr. Bhuva Narayan and Dr. Tim Laurie

Samantha Sperring, Research Assistant and Casual Academic, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UTS
Abstract: This paper draws on research conducted in Sydney and Canberra to explore the relationship between contemporary queer politics (as they manifest in queer activist communities and alongside US based queer theory) and current activist practice. Tracing some of the key sources of antagonism within local activist communities, it questions the extent to which their strategies align with the anti-identitarian, open and ethical origins posed by queer studies. It is one attempt to radically situate and contextualise queer theoretical concerns within the communities they purport to represent, despite much of queer theoretical work taking literature, psychoanalysis and film as its points of reference.

Dr. Shawna Tang, Lecturer, Dept. of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney
Abstract: In Singapore, a city-state with unapologetic aspirations towards global city status, political leaders have since the 1990s deployed sexual difference to signal the country’s progress and modernity in a bid to stay competitive in the global economy. Conservatives despair over the state’s sacrifice of morality at the altar of economic development, and have increasingly taken in their own hands an active anti-gay stance, while LGBTs, politically emboldened and economically empowered by progressive global city projects, have increasingly marshalled their resources to fight back. This clash has led pundits to conclude that Singapore is witnessing a full-blown ‘culture war ‘between the anti-LGBT and LGBT-friendly camp. In this presentation, I examine three of these so-called ‘culture wars’ fought over the repeal of the sodomy law in Singapore, over the issue of lesbianism in Singapore’s most established women’s group, and over Pink Dot, the annual gay pride rally. Central to these ‘culture wars’ is a common sense understanding of homophobia as a ‘cultural’ disposition of a conservative Christian group that can be eradicated over time as Singapore progresses and as LGBTs gain acceptance globally. In this construction of LGBT contentions as a ‘culture war’ hinged on a teleological narrative of progress, I show how the state is able to step outside as an objective adjudicator of cultural contests between progressives and conservatives, placating the anti-gay camp on the one hand, and promising hope for LGBTs on the other. Constructing these clashes as ‘merely cultural’, I argue, enables the state to obscure the material conditions under which it has sought to ally itself with social conservatives on the one hand, and softened its stance against LGBTs on the other, exacerbating tensions between the two camps.

Dr. Srila Roy, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Abstract: This talk provides a glimpse into queerness as a way of life in contemporary Kolkata, India. It looks at the manner in which young metropolitan self-identified queer individuals are transforming their selves and modes of living. No longer hidden or erased, their narratives bespeak the development of a ‘homosexual way of life’ (Foucault) and the expansion – via the resources of India’s liberalisation and transnational discourses of human and sexual rights– of community formation and subcultural development, especially for urban queer women. The ethico-political implications of such a homosexual ascesis are, however, ambiguous insofar as technologies of the queer self can be invested in the production of respectability. This should come as no surprise once we consider the extent to which the maintenance if not reinforcement of class-based hierarchies invariably constitutes the conditions for queer recognition in India today.
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