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Khan, Abeera (2021) 'In Defence of an Unalienated Politic: A Critical Appraisal of the Birmingham LGBT Lessons Protests.' Feminist Review, 128 (1). pp. 132-147.

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Abstract

The trope of the repressive Muslim, obstinately attached to their regressive world views, recalcitrant antagoniser of modernity, has become a thoroughly familiar drama. Redundant spectacles abound: events often highly mediatised, substantiated by conservativism and liberalism alike, deployed as justification for policing, surveillance and invasion. The 2019 protests against the ‘No Outsiders’ LGBT lessons held in Birmingham, England are one such spectacle. Foregoing the dominant portrayal of the protests as an event of Muslim homophobia, I instead examine the social processes that render the event exceptional in the British imaginary and the statecraft it subsequently enables. First, the protests’ production as a spectacular event is analysed through the historical conditions of Europe’s self-constitution through Islam-as-Threat. It is through liberalism’s amnesiac frame, one that erases its imperial and racist culpability, that the sexual exceptionalism that undergirds the spectacle of the protests can be understood. Second, reading the protests ‘sideways’, I argue, reveals how the displacement of homophobia onto Muslims continues liberalism’s tradition of situating its Others as oppositional to its purported gendered and sexual freedoms. In this context, sex education as deradicalisation of Muslim pupils becomes normalised, even as British liberalism disavows racism. Thirdly, the inclusion of queer Muslims as the authentic voice emerging from the cross-sections of queer and Muslim identity is critiqued as a ‘non-performativity’. Rather than offering a relational understanding of queer, Muslim and queer Muslim vulnerabilities, this inclusion elides an intersectional analysis of British homonationalism. I conclude by arguing for ‘an unalienated politics’ that is vigilant to co-optation, refusing to treat queerness as an exceptional site of injury. As such, how can we imagine the ‘queer’ in queer Muslim as a political position that refuses to capitulate to the hierarchisation of the human?

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: queer Muslim, liberalism, Islam, homonationalism, homophobia, coloniality, securitisation
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Gender Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
ISSN: 01417789
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1177/01417789211013777
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2020 11:22
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/33476

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