CfP - Conference - LGBTI & Queer Arts, Culture & Activisms

Louise Barrière's picture
Description: 

LGBTI & QUEER ARTS, CULTURES, ACTIVISMS CONFERENCE (Metz, France)

Conference dates: 11th and 12th June 2020
CfP Deadline: 28th February [Might be subject to extension due to an ongoing strike in French universities, but we recommend you to get your abstract in as soon as you can.]
Conference website: https://acalgbtiq.hypotheses.org/

In France, a few years after the law authorizing same-sex marriage, LGBTQ associations are now facing new struggles, fighting for access to assisted procreation or the creation of a communal archive center. Drawing on these dynamics, this conference aims at interrogating the bonds between LGBTQ forms of arts, cultures and activisms. We look forward to opening a space for academics and grassroots activists, whether they be engaged in institutional collectives or not, to exchange, reflect and dialogue. LGBTQ-related topics appear to be often overlooked in French research networks. We aim to make it more visible and richer, and make it dialogue with local, national and international networks of academics and activists.

“Culture”, here, has to be understood in its sociological sense, that is as an accrual of objects, practices, and features related to a defined social group. We will address both arts (theatre, cinema, music, fine arts, etc.) and festive, associative, activist, media fields that come along the existence of LGBTI and queer communities. Our perspective on politics and activism isn’t limited to legalist and assimilationist movements, that strictly aim to juridically make LGBTQ rights evolve. We wish to explore any form of LGBTQ resistance or visibility, may they develop in a legal frame or in an alternative context.

Indeed, while the terms “Queer” and “LGBT” are sometimes used as synonyms, some queer activists also claim for their distinction toward institutional politics, milieux and associations, that they designate as “assimilationist”. In the field of arts and culture, the Queercore music movement has embodied this distinction, as it developed in the United States in the 1990s and originated the “Don’t be Gay” manifesto, originally published in the punk hardcore fanzine Maximum Rock’n’Roll.

Camp is another form of expression that has served the definition of LGBTIQ representation and its political dimension. Described as a form of gay aesthetic that deals with humor and self-mockery, camp, as it appears in the theatre piece Angels in America written by Kushner, is described by Harvey (1998) as: “a sign of gay resistance and solidarity in the face of a whole array of threats to the gay individual and his community, from AIDS to the discriminations and hypocrisies of the dominant culture. In Kushner’s text, camp is invested with a political charge predicated upon an irreducible and subversive gay difference.”

We will therefore have to understand these terms in their multiple senses, but, moreover, we will have to address the differences, the common points, the limits, and the tensions and confrontations of the artistic and cultural practices they designate.

Previous research on LGBT and queer movements have used various terms to underpin their thoughts –each corresponding to an academic field.


Duyvendak’s (1994) research falls within new social movements sociology. He distinguishes two main types of LGBTQ movements, each drawing on their own motivations and understanding of identity. “Instrumental movements” proceed to a strong distinction between their means and objectives. They act in order to get authority or an adversary to react. Meanwhile, identity movements (subcultural or counter-cultural) intertwine goals and activities: “the process of indentity making is a collective good and the guiding thread of their action.” Alongside with Duyvendak, Filieule (1998) distinguishes, within the world of LGBTQ associations of the early 1980s, an “activist tendency” and a “subcultural tendency”. Nevertheless these categories aren’t strictly enemies, and movements might borrow just as well from one as from the other (Duyvendak, Op. Cit.). We might thus as well look at their relationship.

Geographer Gordon Brent Ingram developed in 1997 the concept of “Queerscape” as he works on public space. Queerscape is

“(…) not only a landscape (as based on the Flemish root schap) with sexual minorities. A queerscape is also an aspect of the landscape, a social overlay, where the interplays between assertion and marginalization of sexualities are in constant flux and the space for sexual minorities is decentered in terms of increasingly supporting stigmatized activities and identities. Queerscapes embody processes that counter those that directly harm, discount, isolate, ghettoize, and assimilate. A queerscape is, therefore, a cumulative kind of spatial unit, a set of places, a plane of subjectivities constituting a collectivity, which involve multiple alliances of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transsexuals and which support a variety of activities, transactions, and functions. At least for some time to come, a queerscape nearly always overlaps with and is surrounded by social groups where heterosexuality is the ‘norm.’ Like the landscape, the queerscape is a cultural construct that provides a territorial basis for considering opportunities for and persistent disparities in access to public space and various respective services and amenities, as well as options for personal and collective expression.” (Ingram, 1997).

From there on, the concept has also been adapted to film studies (for example, see Gras-Velazquez, 2012; Keshti, 2009; Leung, 2001; Kim, 2017; Marchetti, 2017), to popular music studies (Clifford-Napoleone, 2015, 2016), or media studies (Schwartz, 2016).

All of these references come with a myriad of topics and events, well likely to be analyzed. We encourage you to follow three streams of research. For each of them, we mention examples of topics and field your research might look at. Nonetheless, this list has no vocation to be exhaustive nor mandatory.

We also wish to receive propositions of contributions addressing and questioning the intersection of different identity groups and their respective struggles (for more information on the concept of intersectionality, refer to Crenshaw, 1989 or Hill Collins, 2016). We will give a particular attention to papers that investigate how queerness interacts with race or class, as it was for example analysed by Victor Ukaegbu (2007) during his researches on the black queer theatre from post- war Britain, or in Andreana Clay’s (2007) work on Me’Shell Ndegeocello’s career as a bisexual black hip-hop artist and her influence on a whole generation of queer feminists of color.

– Bridging LGBTQ arts, cultures and politics.

We aim to address institutional politics and official artistic frames (museum, national theaters, cinema theaters), as well as alternative fields (squats, amateur practices, informal activist groups). On the one hand, we draw our references from Skadi Loist’s (2015) PhD thesis on LGBT/Q film festivals, Xavier Lemoine’s (2001) works on USA queer theatre, or Robert Mills’ (2008) theories on the “queer museum”. On the other hand, we wish to recall that LGBT and Queer movements also developed within subcultural and alternative spaces. Philipp Meinert (2018) therefore relates the history of LGBTQ punks, Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone (2015), Florian Heesch and Niall Scott (2016) look, in the same way, at metal musics. Not to limit our investigations to music, we might as well study the “Queer street art movements”.
Moreover, similar dynamics have also been observed in sports: from the institutional side of the Gay Games, to the alternative field with collective such as “Unity Queer Skateboarding” that gathers queer people around the skateboarding scene.

We, for example, wish to receive submissions that address the circulation of these practices between an underground or subcultural paradigm and a mainstream or institutional culture. Finally, submissions might also look at consumer activism. These last few years, fans of a TV show or a license have rallied together to “save” cultural object starring LGBTQ characters of intrigues, whose production called it a day. The most notorious case is, of course, Sense 8, the Netflix TV show, but others, such as One Day At A Time, have known a similar story. Not to mention the Harry Potter case, and the big question around Dumbledore’s homosexuality that has generated a lot of debates and controversy.

– The histories of LGBTQ struggles and their up-to-dateness.

Cinema, television, theatre… From Philadelphia (Demme, 1993) to 120BPM (Campillo, 2017), the history of LGBTQ struggles has been largely represented. We could also mention Milk (Van Sant, 2008), Pride (Warchus, 2014), or even Angels in America (first as a theatre piece – Kushner, 1991 -, and then as a TV show – Nichols, 2003). How did some art works, creations, happenings happen to form the heritage of a LGBTQ culture? Looking beyond the objects themselves, their exhibition circumstances, or on the contrary their concealment, emphasize visibility-related issues. To what extent, have some artists or stakeholders of LGBTQ history been hidden (post-mortem included)? What compensation strategies have later arisen? This should also lead to interrogate the strength of normativity within queer spaces, as noticed Carmen H. Logie and Marie-Jolie Rwigema (2014) during their investigations within lesbian, bisexual and queer women of color’s community in Toronto.

Moreover, while the question is older and recurring in the history of French LGBTQ movements, the production of the movie 120 BPM, in 2017, quickly became an occasion for Parisian activists to build a collective dedicated to LGBTQ community archives. The group’s creation follows years of inter-associative negotiation with Paris’ city council, for the purpose of creating a conservation center. Alongside with this dynamic, we aim to look at archives and their roles in the formation of LGBTQ culture(s). In that sense, we look at archives as both cultural objects, part of an LGBTQ legacy, and as historical sources that inform us on the lifestyles, behaviors and claims that come along social movements, and their evolution in time. How do present activists look at these sources? To what extent do younger activists know and have access to these archives? What history of activist, cultural and associative practices do they tell us?

– LGBTQ bodies and activist embodiments in arts and culture.

In Ce que la sida m’a fait (What AIDS has done to me), Elisabeth Lebovici describes the consequent space that artists took in activist groups such as ACT UP. Beyond a singular and affective approach of the archives, she emphasizes the inherent force of minority representations. The artist’s body, as it highlights the issues and the emergency of political struggles, conveys a form of individual emancipation, whose potential remains nonetheless communal. Therefore, these practices, that aren’t limited to aesthetics but have to be thought as activist strategies, are rooted in a History of fights (Lebovici, 2017) and testify that the body stands at a singular place within collective and artistic mobilizations. Following that line, the place of affects, both within artistic practices and research activities, might be discussed.

Moreover, Renaud Bret Vitoz develops an elaborated analyze in his article “Penser le queer avant le queer (XVIe-XVIIe siècles)” (“Theorizing queer before queer (16th-17th centuries)”), and gives us the chance to understand, within art history, a corpus that we could qualify as “proto-queer”. Avoiding anachronisms, we can’t nowadays look at some works without thinking of specific later-elaborated theories. We wish to address their seminal aspect and understand the issues of their potential rediscoveries and reinterpretations.

Finally, the trans-historical quality of Renate Lorenz’s Art queer, a freak theory, testifies of the plasticity of her research, and her will to explore new time perspectives on art. The construction of a reflexion on LGBTQ bodies might connect ancient works with contemporary claims. Therefore, we also encourage you to submit works that rely on an emancipatory approach of art history (Lorenz, 2018: 2).

We invite graduate students, early career researchers as well as more established scholars from all relevant fields and disciplines to send us their paper proposals by February 28th. Proposals should be no more then 300 words. They should be accompanied by a short biography and sent to both these contacts:
– 
louise.barriere@univ-lorraine.fr
– melodie.marull@live.fr

The conference will happen on the 11th and 12th June 2020, in Metz – France.

An art exhibit will happen alongside with the conference, at the campus gallery, from May the 20th to June the 12th. It will also be part of the “Rainbow Weeks”, the local LGBTIQ Pride Festival.

We therefore also wish to receive art pieces proposals (visual and audiovisual pieces, performances, etc.) related to the topics listed in this call for papers.

In this case, we invite you to send us:
– A description of the piece(s) you would like to exhibit and, if possible, pictures.
– A short biography.

The organizing committee and the art gallery managers will make a selection.

References list

Baroque, Fray & Eanelli Tegan (trad) (2016), Vers la plus queer des insurrections, Paris : Libertalia
Burk, Tara Jean-Kelly (2015). Let The Record Show: Mapping Queer Art and Activism in New York City, 1986-1995. Thèse de doctorat.
Clay, Andreana (2007). Like an Old Soul Record: Black Feminism, Queer Sexuality, and the Hip-Hop Generation. Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism 8(1), 53-73. Duke University Press.
Clifford-Napoleone, Amber R. (2015). Queerness in heavy metal: Metal Bent. London & New York: Routledge. Clifford-Napoleone, Amber R. (2016). Metal, masculinity and the queer subject. In Heavy Metal, Gender and Sexuality (pp. 63-76). Routledge.
Clifford-Napoleone, Amber R. (2018). Queering Kansas City Jazz: Gender, Performance, and the History of a Scene. University of Nebraska Press.
Duyvendak, Jan Willem (1994), Le poids du politique. Nouveaux mouvements sociaux en France. Paris : L’Harmattan. Fillieule, Olivier (1998). Mobilisation gay en temps de sida. Les études gay et lesbiennes, 81-97.
Fillieule, Olivier, & Duyvendak, Jan Willem (1999). Gay and lesbian activism in France: Between integration and community-oriented movements. The global emergence of gay and lesbian politics: National imprints of a worldwide movement, 184-213.
Gras-Velázquez, Adrian (2012). Queering and De-queering the Home: Private and Public Space in Contemporary Spanish Cinema. The International Journal of the Humanities9, 257-68.
Harvey, Keith. (1998). Translating camp talk: Gay identities and cultural transfer. The Translator, 4(2), 295-320.
Ingram, Gordon Brent, Bouthillette, Anne-Marie, & Retter, Yolanda (Eds.). (1997). Queers in space: Communities, public places, sites of resistance. Bay Press.
Kheshti, Roshana (2009). Cross‐Dressing and Gender (Tres) Passing: The Transgender Move as a Site of Agential Potential in the New Iranian Cinema. Hypatia, 24(3), 158-177.
Kim, Ungsan (2017). Queer Korean cinema, national others, and making of queer space in Stateless Things (2011). Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 9(1), 61-79.
Lebovici, Elisabeth (2017), Ce que le sida m’a fait : Arts et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle, JRP Ringier, Éditions Maison Rouge.
Leperlier, François (2006). Claude Cahun, l’exotisme intérieur, Paris : Fayard, 2006.
Leung, Helen Hok-sze (2001). Queerscapes in Contemporary Hong Kong Cinema. positions: east asia cultures critique 9(2), 423-447. Duke University Press.
Logie Carmen H. & Rwigema Marie-Jolie (2014). “The Normative Idea of Queer is a White Person”: Understanding Perceptions of White Privilege Among Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Women of Color in Toronto, Canada. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 18:2, 174-191.
Loist, Skadi (2015), Queer Film Culture: Performative Aspects of LGBT/Q Film Festivals, Thèse de doctorat en philosophie, Université de Hambourg, Allemagne.
Lorenz, Renate & Bortolotti, Marie-Mathilde (2018), Art queer: une théorie freak, Paris : B42.
Marchetti, Gina (2017). Handover Bodies in a Feminist Frame: Two Hong Kong Women Filmmakers’ Perspectives on Sex after 1997. Screen Bodies, 2(2), 1-24.
Meinert, Philipp (2018). Homopunk History. Mayence: Ventil Verlag.
Plana, Muriel, & Sounac, Frédéric (dir) (2015). Esthétique(s) queer dans la littérature et les arts : sexualités et politiques du trouble. EUD-Editions Universitaires Dijon.
Rüegg, Jana (2018). From Content to Context: A Comparative Analysis of the Covers of Translated Versions of Sara Stridsberg’s Beckomberga. DiGeSt, Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies , 5(2), 23-44.
Schwartz, Andi. (2016). Critical Blogging: Constructing Femmescapes Online. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No.9.
Schulman, Sarah. (2018). La Gentrification des esprits, Paris : B42.
Summers, Claude (Ed.). (2012). The Queer Encyclopedia of Music, Dance, and Musical Theater. Cleis Press Start.
Ukaegbu, Victor (2007) Grey silhouettes: black queer theatre on the post-war British stage. In: Godiwala, D. (ed.) Alternatives Within the Mainstream II: Queer Theatres in Post-war Britain. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 322-338.

Organizing committee

Louise Barrière (PhD student in Arts, 2L2S – Université de Lorraine)
Dr. Mélodie Marull (PhD in Arts, CREM – Université de Lorraine)

Scientific committee

Dr. Karine Espineira (PhD in Sociology, LEGS – Université Paris 8)
Dr. Isabelle Gavillet (Associate Professor in Media Studies, CREM – Université de Lorraine)
Dr. Olivier Goetz (Associate Professor in Theatre Studies, 2L2S – Université de Lorraine)
Prof. Dr. Claire Lahuerta (Professor in Visual Arts, CREM – Université de Lorraine)
Dr. Xavier Lemoine (Associate Professor in American Studies, LISAA – Université Paris-Est Marne-La-Vallée)
Prof. Dr. Maria Nengeh Mensah (Professor in Feminist Studies – Université du Québec À Montréal)
Prof. Dr. Muriel Plana (Professor in Theatre Studies – LLA CREATIS – Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès)
Dr. Massimo Prearo (PhD in Political Studies – EHESS)
Dr. Nelly Quemener (Associate Professor in Media Studies, IRMECCEN – Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle)

The deadline has been extended! The CfP now runs until March 15th.