Fear is a potent political motivator. Though the fear of others has long been used as a technology of power, the intersecting phobias of religious and secular others has a peculiar dynamic in late modernity. Communication technologies accelerate our inter-connectedness making otherness more apparent, and thus more normalized, as well as rendering fear of the other more actionable as a political tool. In cases across the globe, from Orlando to Lahore, the interstices of sexuality and religion have proven particularly fraught, even deadly. A facile opposition of Western tolerance with Islamic prejudice distorts the complex and contending dynamics of identity, gender, authority, desire, religion, secularism, power, sex, and violence. The dynamics of Islamophobia and homophobia have their own respective genealogies. Yet, when fused in our current historical moment they surface a common nexus of concerns related to secular governmentality, religious embodiment, and sexual purity and pleasure.
Contending Modernities seeks proposals for articles and symposia that develop our public, political and academic understanding of these dynamics by, first, outing the reified caricatures that function within islamo- and homo-phobias and, second, noting alternative, sub-altern constructions of hybrid identities. We seek proposals that balance an attention to historical specificity by disaggregating the unique ways that the dynamics of fear operate in particular cases while also theorizing these intersections generally, offering heuristic clarity to complex dynamics by looking comparatively across religious traditions, historical periods, or geographical cases.
We solicit articles and symposia that might analyze, but are not limited to:
- Historical cases of transgressive genders and sexualities within Islam;
- The racialization of Islamic identities and the complicity of racism with desires for sexual purity;
- Quranic texts which have been used to construct (or deconstruct) normative categories of gender identity and the hermeneutic possibilities and limits of those texts;
- Contemporary events such as the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the Pakistani Fatwa regarding transgender marriage, or others;
- Emic perspectives on the inclusion or exclusion of religious and/or sexual others within Islamic and/or LGBTQ communities;
- Similarities and differences regarding sexuality and religion in Catholicism or Evangelical Christianity (or other religious and secular traditions);
- Post-colonial critiques of the impact of international norms and organizations on the spread of normative sexualities;
- The dynamics of fashion, from the Burkini controversy to Turkish Muslimism;
- Legal and extra-legal mechanisms that police aberrant sexualities;
Contending Modernities editors will eagerly receive proposals for symposia of three to four commentators, scholars, and activists on a specific issue, event, or theme. Symposia authors will ideally be a mix of senior scholars, graduate students, and public intellectuals. We will also allow single-author submissions, though we will give preference to conversations and encourage single-author submissions to respond to material already published on Contending Modernities.
To submit a symposium proposal please send a document that lists the topic you plan to treat, a 300 word abstract for the symposium as a whole, the names of proposed authors, and titles for the topics of each author’s contribution. Contributions should be around 750 words in length.
Proposals were accepted on a rolling basis through the fall of 2016.
Photo Credit: Tever McFervienza, “Alambre de Espino”