A lecture by Noor Al-Qasimi, King's College, London
In the UAE current modes of governance are attempting to consolidate a national identity in crisis. With Emiratis outnumbering expatriates by more than eight to one, Emirati youth have been incentivised to respond to the outreach of the government. The special role of Emirati youth is critical to understanding the way in which this generation is pressured to uphold practices of reproductive sexuality, lineage, and continuity. My paper seeks to map young Emiratis’ deviations from such practices to identify a process of social and national ostricization inherent in a terrain of governance aimed at sexual regeneration. Those who are in receipt of the state’s privileges are simultaneously subordinatedsubject to discourses of cultural preservation that dictate the extent of acceptable transgression, or “deviation.” This paper adopts a combined methodology that will bring together ethnographic interviews with analyses of media technologies, discourse analysis, examination of governmental policies, and close textual reading. I pay careful attention to medical and legal discourse, namely psychiatric rehabilitation and interpretations of Sharia Law appertaining to the treatment of Emirati queers. Notions of sexual difference as outside socio-political norms support my use of the term queer difference as a broadly conceived concept. Work on the history of gender and sexuality, such as narratives of imagined national collectivities and sexual anxieties of modernity, will be employed to explore the role of sexuality in the shaping of modern culture and politics in the Emirates. My project also builds on Foucauldian understandings of biopolitics to describe how heteropatriarchy operates in relation to notions of regeneration and reproduction. Moreover, I draw on Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics in my theorization of queer difference, so as to critically assess various processes of normalization alongside the production of life and slow death.
Noor Al-Qasimi received her Ph.D. in Film and Television from the University of Warwick in 2007. She recently held a fellowship at New York University. Her research interests are the intersection between sexuality, cybertechnology, and the region of the Middle East, critical theory, postcolonial feminism, transnational feminism, queer theory, feminist theories of agency, biopolitics, governmentality, and affect theory. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at King's College, University of London. At present, she is working on a manuscript with the working title, Anticipatory Governance, Queer Difference and the Emirati Post-Oil Generation.
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