Queer Studies: Here, There and Elsewhere
This conference brings scholars together from France and the US to discuss queer theory, race, nation and immigration in Columbia’s Global Center in Paris.
In the wake of a fierce “anti-gender” movement in Europe, queer theory has been characterized as a foreign import, as an American imperialism promoting ideas fundamentally antithetic to French political culture. What fantasies of contagion and reproduction lie at the heart of this French (conservative) version of “queer theory” and what is the actual state of queer theory in the French academy today?
The goal of this conference is to bring together French and American scholars to reflect on these questions, exchange ideas, and foster collaborations. In fact, in the US, scholars working under the banner of “queer theory” or “queer studies” comprise a wide-ranging group of thinkers with projects that range across numerous fields including disability studies, the politics of austerity, militarism and masculinity, urban planning, transgender surgeries in a global frame, queer diasporas, immigration, sex work, racial capitalism, state violence and so on. Most significantly perhaps, US based scholars have been vigorous in opposing the notion of a “global gay” or of a singular model of gender, sexuality and desire, and have even critiqued the cultural imperialism inherent in both the circulation of queer theories globally and the circulation of queer bodies within circuits of sexual tourism.
Perhaps the most significant difference, moreover, between European based queer theory and US based queer studies has less to do with marriage and the family and more to do with race. Perhaps the most important version of queer theory that should travel to Europe, then, is the work of queer scholars studying race, ethnicity and migration.
This conference facilitates exchanges between and across communities of scholars at a time of global political crisis.