Beyond Apologies, Rights, and the Police: Against the Neoliberal Queer in Pandemic Times
The current context includes an apology to the LGBT+ communities for the purge campaigns in the public service and military, the celebration of the mythology that the Canadian government ‘decriminalized’ homosexuality in 1969, the assertion that full rights for LGBTQ+ people have been established in ‘Canada,’ and those arguing for alliances with the police against Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous racism and police brutality. It is also marked by the forgetting of the acquisitions of AIDS activism in the current pandemic. These official declarations and celebrations signaled a consolidation of the neoliberal queer and its racialized class politics of the end goal simply being acceptance into the white middle class. But this has not been an inevitable long march towards the neoliberal queer since there have been important moments of resistance to the emergence of this neoliberal queer racialized class strata. This strata is invested in actively separating 2SLGBTQ+ struggles from anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial struggles, and especially from the continuing global struggle to abolish racist policing which has become a dividing line between neoliberal queer strata and those who stand on the side of the lives of Black, Indigenous and other people of colour. This paper examines both resistance to the emergence of the neoliberal queer in the historical past and the historical present of the pandemic and the uprising against policing (including Black Lives Matter and Indigenous organizing) and what these suggest for future organizing that moves beyond the neoliberal queer and towards social liberation.
On Rescuable and Expendable Life: Bioavailability, Surplus Time, and Queer Politics of Reproduction
Ian Liujia Tian
This article questions the political branding of settler Canada as a place of sanctuary. I examine two seemingly paradoxical processes: “private-public partnership” in queer refugee settlement programs and migrant detention centres in Canada. This article argues that rescue and capture are not contradictory, but dialectical features of human bioeconomy. Such an economy renders the reproduction of life, vitality, and time bioavailable for extraction. In this sense, the queer refugee as rescuable and the detained as expendable are both the subject of value extraction. Although human bioeconomic processes do not promise life vitality, queer refugees and migrants do find ways to assemble a liveable life. Taking cues from Saidiya Hartman’s “innovators of life genre,” I discuss community building as processes of queer reproduction of liveability, countering bioeconomic violence.
Keywords: queer migration, critical refugee studies, biocapitalism, border imperialism, detention and prisons
Dispossessing Bodies: Fighting Violence beyond Possessive Individualism
Sexualized and gender violence is a common feature of everyday life for most people across the globe. Regimes of femicides are alive and breathing. Domestic violence is a cruel harbinger for mass shootings; incels rage and kill, supposedly “robbed of what is rightfully theirs”:
(feminised) bodies for sex. And yet, avoiding a deeper analysis of the origins of the epidemic, the commonly proposed antidotes remain reductive and ultimately not only unhelpful but harmful: seeking individual responsibility and blame, securitization, heightened punishment and citizenship regulations, and a retreat into the private sphere, to name a few. Starting with this, the initial intuition of this paper is that struggles against violence need to strike at what I call “cultures of property”, i.e. both the material and structural logic of property and its embodied twin possessiveness. Therefore, the argumentative structure is threefold.
Firstly, it analyses the blight of a system and its subjects built on ownership. Property relations of “western modernity”, i.e. colonial capitalism, have worked to produce proprietarian and acquisitive subjects along class lines and racial and gender markers. Legalized and internalized entitlement over other people’s bodies has made violence, particularly sexualized violence, appear legitimate. This is not a thing of the past: today we witness ongoing logics of dispossession of land and bodies. Across society, possessive sentiment pervades social relations and does not stop short of interpersonal relationships. The desire to own, appropriate and accumulate is inscribed into bodies. Such systems of ownerships impair supportive social relations and exude a violence that clearly extends into the realm of gender relations and sexuality.
Secondly, it points to the pitfalls of strategies against violence that collapse into the same proprietarian logic; focusing on the common emancipatory declaration of self-ownership. Slogans around self-ownership are prevalent particularly in movements against gender oppression, such as “my body my choice” (pro-choice and anti-slutshaming campaigns), “repossessing my body” (empowering statement after sexual assault), or “born like this” (LGBTIQ* movements posing sexuality or gender as bodily property). These fierce slogans can be vital to reject foreign control and build individual and collective self-confidence. Yet, self-ownership is the basis for (liberal) theories of acquisition such as Locke’s and paves the way for the kind of possessive individualism critiqued in the first place. While supposed to free the body and enable a re-thinking of social and intimate relations, self-ownership objectifies, abstracts and commodifies it.