Südasien-Informationsnetz e.V. präsentiert:

queer and the colony: conversation of nation, sex and home

mit Kyla Pasha, Lahore/Pakistan & Ponni Arasu, Chennai/ India

in Hamburg: Freitag, den 31. Mai 2013, 19.00 Uhr, Universität Hamburg, Hörsaal C, VMP 6 (eine Veranstaltung der AG Queer Studies )

in Berlin: Montag, 3. Juni 2013, 20.30 Uhr im Südblock, Admiralstr. 1-2, 10999 Berlin

Die queer-feministischen Aktivistinnen Ponni Arasu aus Indien und Kyla Pasha aus Pakistan unterhalten sich darüber, was es bedeutet queer zu sein und was es bedeutet zuhause zu sein. Zuhause sein als Feministinnen im globalen Süden, in Interaktion mit dem globalen Norden, getrennt durch vielfältige Grenzen. Was bedeutet das für Allianzen und grenzüberschreitende Feminismen?

Ponni führt Kylas Ein-Personen-Stück Dost (Freund_in) auf, Kyla trägt Gedichte vor und beide unterhalten sich mit Urmila Goel darüber, was das Ganze mit Deutschland zu tun haben könnte. Sie sprechen dabei Englisch.

zur ausführlichen Beschreibung und zu den Unterstützenden

The Speakers and Performers

Kyla Pasha (born 1979) is a Pakistani poet, currently doing a Ph.D. program in Phoenix/ Arizona, USA. She is also founder and managing editor of Chay Magazine: Sex and Sexuality in Pakistan, South Asia and Abroad. Her first book of poems, High Noon and the Body, was published in 2010 by Yoda Press, New Delhi, and she has co-edited Two Loves: Faiz's Letters from Jail, a volume of the prison letters of the Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, which was published in 2011 by Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore. Her paper on the Pakistani women’s movement is due to be published in a volume on the marginalization within women’s movements in South Asia, edited by Geetanjali Misra and published by Sage. She is currently working on her second collection of poems.

Ponni Arasu (born 1983) is a queer feminist activist, who has worked with a range of human rights contexts and issues including gender, sexuality, labour and conflict. She co-founded a number of collectives that work on issues relating to gender and sexuality inside and out of college, including Nigah media collective, which has organised the annual Nigah Queer Fest in Delhi for the past six years. Particularly, Ponni has done legal and advocacy work with Voices Against 377, a coalition that worked to decriminalize homosexuality. Ponni is an actor and has performed in Tamil, Urdu and English, her work including a repertoire of plays in Tamil performed in Tamilnadu as well as at the National Theatre Festival in Delhi. In autumn 2012 she started a Ph.D. program in Toronto, Canada.

Ponni co-edited Law Like Love: Queer Politics and Law in India, Yoda Press (with Arvind Narrain, Siddharth Narrain, Alok Gupta, Mayur Suresh and Akshay Khanna); and the forthcoming Because I Have a Voice II, Yoda Press (with Pramada Menon). Her publications include an article on the queer women’s movements in South Asia in the forthcoming publication by Sage edited by Geetanjali Misra.

Queer and the colony

This presentation is about establishing and redefining what it means to be queer and what it means to be home – home particularly in an environment of contested definitions of solidarity, fealty, patriotism, borders, feminism, philanthropy and self.

The question of queer is a familiar one among us: How its meaning came to be, where it is located geographically and in struggles, and how it is deployed.

The question of home within that context is often forgotten. This begins perhaps with belonging (perhaps in coming out narratives, acceptance stories), but is far greater than the notion of simply being accepted or rejected by an imagined societal binary. We will explore the central question of what and where is home, how it is formed and what it means to queers, who are feminists in the global South rooted in multiple struggles and conflicts.

Eleven years ago, the two of us met under the auspices of a German initiative to foster democracy and regional cooperation among youth in South Asia. We met across the most fraught of borders, or rather we crossed it by avoiding it altogether (physically) and by falling in love. When we returned to our own countries we had a relationship fraught by all things young people in new relationships are fraught with – plus a border that we could not cross, not easily, not without visas and police checks and tapped phones.

What came of it was a short play called dost which means friend in Urdu/Hindi and deals with India-Pakistan relations, borders, social movements and love. It was written by Kyla in Islamabad and performed by Ponni in Bombay, Delhi, Chennai and a number of other places in India, many of which were queer or queer friendly spaces. Since then, we have both been involved in creating a lot of spaces in our own countries, while constantly consulting one another and in forming solidarities across the border both momentary and permanent. What began as a personal friendship has come to have a palpable impact on queer feminist movement spaces in South Asia.

Since 2002, we never looked back at Germany per se and our relationship with it. The German initiative that caused us to meet was always incidental. However many of the relationships that queer activists in South Asia have with Western nations and people (the two being differentiated consciously) has to occupy our mind space while we frame our politics.

Using dost as our starting point, we will talk about our experience with engaging with Western nations and people as South Asian queer feminists. Our presentation will address its nuances and pose some questions for all of us to think through together. Needless to say this will be done while being grounded in conceptual understandings that emerged for us from our experiences, here in our region which then helps us understand all things including our relationship with the global North. We will talk about what love means across our first border and other borders that are at war; what queer means to queer people who are in a war zone, the contours of which, in turn, are drawn for us in the global North.

We will talk about home and ask this question of all of us: what form will alliances and cross-border feminism(s) and a politics of South Asian identity or transnational feminist coalitions take, when as a matter of fact people have found each other to be home, somehow – across borders, without laws, without money or permission, in desire and desire-less-ness, in friendship. How can we unpack this creation of the ‘home’ in order to learn from it and construct it in various positions of alliance we find ourselves in? How can we rigorously capture the spirit of the irrelevant border that is pushed into oblivion by a politics that is rooted in an ethic of love?

Consider this: that if the border between the two of us (Ponni and Kyla) is fraught, the large blocks of air, chunks of time, between the two of us and the global North, between “South Asian” and “Germans” is even more alienated (and needless to say, neither of us are all encompassing unitary representatives of ‘South Asia’ but on the contrary, hold within us all the nittigritties of that category as well. A similar multiplicity of the category ‘German’ is assumed in this conversation). Given this reality of the distance and the perspectives it creates for us about the West in comparison to our own contexts and the way Western governments paint our ‘backward’, ‘violent’ contexts and the reaction of Western peoples to that formulation, we would much rather have conversations with you about parallels and new notions, than have conversations about how beleaguered we are. Any simplistic formulation of beleaguered-ness or privilege is inaccurate and inadequate for building real solidarities.

A politics of love predicates a desire for life to blossom and harm to be avoided. It is a politics of something that we may call basic humanity, but humanity isn’t the right word – it brings us to a conversation on the natural, the basically human, the basically good, and we know that that which is basically human or “natural” or any such reduction is unintentional, unpredictable and slave to the first instinct, whether that is compassion or power or jealousy or death. Humanity is not deliberate.

Love, we can argue, isn’t deliberate either. But it causes deliberation. This is where notions of “solidarity”, “fealty”, “queerness” and “feminism” must start.

Organisation und Kontakt: Urmila Goel, info (at) urmila.de

Ermöglicht wurde die Reise von Kyla Pasha und Ponni Arasu nach Deutschland durch Unterstützung von:

Vielen Dank!

www.urmila.de/queerandcolony, 2013