Transing Occlusion: Trans Lives in Non-Euro-North American Geographies
Panel Proposal for the AAA 2013, Chicago November 20-24
Organizers: Asli Zengin, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto and Faris A. Khan, PhD Candidate, Syracuse University
Anthropological work on transgenderism has expanded incrementally since the emergence of transgender studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s, paralleling the rise of queer studies. Within the existing body of work, the material conditions and representational practices of trans people have been widely examined. By focusing on themes such as cross-cultural and historical analyses of sexed embodiment and human gender diversity, subjective experiences of gender identity, medico-legal practices regulating gender expression and transsexuality, these studies have investigated the assumed relations between sex, gender, biology and culture. They have also developed critical and attentive approaches to different forms of trans existence, including cross-dressing, transsexuality, transvestitism, MTF or FTM transitioning, etc.
Yet, in as much as trans issues have remained marginal within anthropology, ethnographic research on trans issues also has its shortcomings given the dearth of anthropological work on non-Euro-North American trans communities and selves, whether in native locales or diasporic zones. With the exception of a few well-known studies (Nanda 1990; Johnson 1997; Prieur 1998; Kulick 1998; Reddy 2005) the literature is generally northern/western-centric, and further scholarly attention is needed to cultivate a more attuned approach to differences in race, ethnicity, religion, class and location among trans people across cultures and societies. In light of this gap in scholarship, the presentations on our panel intend to contribute to discussions on trans politics, embodiment, selves, and communities in localized contexts. To this end, we ask the following questions: How do science, technology, religion, culture, and society shape trans experience in non-Euro-North American contexts? How do medico-legal regulations and language configure transsexualism in various local contexts, and what kinds of consequences do these developments bring to trans people’s lives? How does violence operate through and shape trans subjectivities and existences, and what forms does violence take? How do nation-states intervene and shape trans people’s lives? How and to what extent do transnational flows of capital, images, and knowledge impact trans identities, livelihood, and activism in these local contexts? How do trans people respond to these processes in their ordinary and political lives? What are the conditions for trans politics, and what kinds of political claims and imaginations are at stake? What kinds of trans subcultures and embodiments can we talk about?
While these questions are essential, studying trans issues can be complicated given the degree of exclusion, discrimination and stigma that trans people face in their everyday lives. It often involves problems associated with secrecy, suspicion, lack of trust and a complex and negotiated relationship between researcher positionality and trans informants. This panel also explores these questions, along with the methodological and ethical concerns that emerge from studying precarious trans lives in non-Euro-North American cultures.
Please submit 250-word abstracts to Asli Zengin at firstname.lastname@example.org and Faris A. Khan at email@example.com no later than February 24, 2013
Department of Anthropology
Women and Gender Studies Institute
University of Toronto
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