Monthly Archives: November 2009

Problematic Proximities, Or why Critiques of “Gay Imperialism” Matter

Following on from last week’s guest post by Aren Aizura, I am posting Sara Ahmed‘s incisive comment on the censorship of ‘Gay Imperialism’

by Sara Ahmed

Sara Ahmed

Sara Ahmed

Peter Tatchell invites us to find evidence of ‘my Islamaphobia, racism or support for imperialist wars or the “war on terror”‘ in the articles that can be downloaded from his website. I would like to say that a brief glance at some of these articles shows some very serious problems in terms of the employment of racialised vocabularies for example in: Their Multiculturalism and Ours; Why has the left gone soft on human rights?; The New Dark Ages (you don’t need to read Frantz Fanon to discuss the problem with the use of the very term ‘the new dark ages’ though Fanon, as always would help) and Islamic Fundamentalism in Britain. I don’t have the time in this brief informal response for the call to respond to go through all of the problems with these pieces, for example, with how some of the critiques of ‘universal human rights’ discourse which have been an important part of LGBT, feminist, socialist as well as anti-racist histories are represented as ‘going soft’. I do intend to offer a systematic critique of some of the terms of the arguments used in due course, which I will publish where they can downloaded, in the interests of sustaining and enabling a debate. But I do want to question here how Mr Tatchell is responding to the critique, and even to the critique of the response to the critique (offered by very thoughtful and careful pieces of writing such as the one offered by Aren Aizura). Critiques of racism are reduced and misheard as personal attacks, which is what blocks a hearing of the critique. In the end, the situation becomes re-coded as a question of individual reputation and good will: we lose the chance to attend to the politics of the original critique. Continue reading

Racism and the Censorship of Gay Imperialism

by Aren Aizura

I am reprinting the excellent response to the censorship of Out of Place, a book edited by Adi Kuntsman and Esperanza Miyake on the interconnections between queerness and raciality.  As you will read, the book contains an article, ‘Gay Imperialism’, which critiques what Jasbir Puar for example has termed ‘homonationalism’ and the participation by some gay rights and feminist activists in the perpetuation of Islamophobia through the ‘war on terror’ logic.

The book will not be republished due to an attack by the gay rights activist, Peter Tatchell, who has claimed that he is defamed by the article. The article and the book are an excellent critique of the ways in which discourses of liberation have been subverted in the service of power.

Please read this critique and spread it widely. An interesting comment on his piece and on Peter Tatchell’s stance by Sara Ahmed, author of much interesting work on racism, Islamophobia and ‘diversity’ can be read here.

Read on for Aizura’s article… Continue reading