Sexuality and Political Economy Stream – Authoritarianism, the Right and Contemporary Queer Politics

Against an apparent sense of a century of ‘western’ progress on sexual identity rights, recognition and justice, the first two decades of the 21st century have seen a growing sense of impasse. This impasse has taken different forms. The ‘progressive’ west and its recognition of LGBTQI+ politics has encountered criticisms of its ‘alphabet soup rights politics of identity’ and implicit colonialism in its assumption of some progressive spread of its own legal – political trajectory across the globe. Diverse articulations of sexual and gendered difference across the globe has emphasised the importance of indigenous and diverse understandings of how people self-identity and organise their intimate lives. The rise of authoritarian rebuttals of such rights and justice in Central Europe and the Middle East have suggested limited and superficial lip service to rights and justice discourse and a latent hostility to challenges to heteronormativity and masculinity. More, legal and political protections for non-heterosexuals have not stopped homophobia, heterosexism and sexual prejudice, however far apparently culturally displaced. Where those rights have consolidated, the normalisation of sexual hierarchy and the ‘smoothing over’ of difference in homonormativity seem to have exhausted the impetus for a queer politics of difference. More, homonationalism and conservative appropriations of LG struggles have contributed to prejudicial attacks such as islamophobia, whilst anti-LGBTQI feeling within religiously oriented authoritarian regimes and religious communities have drawn up divisive fractures between different oppressed and exploited segments of authoritarian and liberal nation-states. The backlash against trans from both conservative and feminist positions, and the persistence of hypermasculinity in apparently more gender conscious and flexible societies is a further demonstration of the impasse.

This impasse throws up three broad questions:

How does a vibrant and left queer politics resist the authoritarian right and prejudicial conservative forces?

How does a vibrant and left queer politics build from the vagaries yet apparent gains produced by homonormativity?

How does a vibrant and left queer politics construct its counter-hegemony in different national, cultural and political contexts?

Papers that address these broad questions in specific ways, and/or contribute to a critical political economic approach to sexual and gendered politics, or enhance our understanding of sexual and gendered struggles across the globe, are welcome.

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