Royal Holloway University of London
The School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures presents
TRAUMA, FICTION, HISTORY
Professor Denis M. Provencher (Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow, Nottingham-Trent University & Associate Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County) – Maghrebi-French Disidentifications: Queer Performances of Gender, Religion, and Citizenship
This talk builds on recent work in anthropology, critical discourse analysis, and performance studies to examine the queer performances of gender, religion, and citizenship by self-identified gay Maghrebi-French men from my recent fieldwork in France. As a point of departure, I draw on José Esteban Muñoz’s notion of ‘disidentification’, which he defines as a strategy of resistance that ‘works on and against dominant ideology’ and that ‘tries to transform cultural logic from within’ a dominant system of identification and assimilation (1999: 11-12). In my own analysis, I examine how two French interviewees of Maghrebi descent, Toufik (2Fik) and Ludovic, ‘disidentify’ or draw on and reshape dominant ways of being and belonging in contemporary France. First, I consider a series of interviews with Toufik (2Fik), a performance artist and photographer, who works from within dominant Western notions of feminism to rewrite longstanding images of Islam in France. I will also present a series of his parodic photographs, which capture encounters between ‘liberated’ and ‘conservative’ Muslims and question dominant images of the subordinate veiled woman, heteronormativity, and traditional masculinity associated with Maghrebi-French families. Next, I consider my interview with Ludovic Lotfi Mohamed Zahed, founder of the French association Homosexuels musulmans de France (HM2F), and analyze his recent essay/autobiography Le Coran et la Chair (2012) to show how his work as an activist, scholar, and religious thinker functions from within dominant Islam and readings of the Coran to reconstruct the ‘good’ practicing Muslim and ‘good citizen’. Indeed, Toufik’s and Ludovic’s stories will help us to see how they must ‘straddle competing cultural traditions, memories, and material conditions’ in their queer performances and they must devise ‘a configuration of possible scripts of self/selves that shift according to the situation’ (Manalansan 2003: x) in order to be heard both in contemporary France and in their families of origin.
Introduction by Professor Colin Davis (SMLLC, RHUL):