Throughout modern Indonesian history, Islamic rhetoric has been used by both elites and nonelites to prohibit and constrain the social existence of sexual and gender minorities. It is a recent phenomenon, however, that such rhetoric is performed to powerful displays of emotional intensity and physical aggression. Incitements of violence in various media outlets, criminalization of same-sex relationships in different local bylaws, and severe persecutions of queer visibility in public spaces have increasingly become a part of the landscape of everyday life in the archipelago. In this seminar, Ferdiansyah Thajib presents his ethnographic exploration of the affective lives of Muslim queers in Indonesia. How do people who bear witness to, or who are targeted by, such polarizing discourse feel? How do people deal, emotionally, with social realities that continue to pit their faith practices against their desires and ways of living? How to choose between two apparently incommensurate ideas, and what happens if, for a number of reasons but mainly because of rampant marginalization, there are no real options to choose from? How, in short, do Muslim queer subjectivities affectively inhabit the intersections, contestations, and collisions of selfhood, identity, community, space, religious ideals, social norms, political discourses, and violent marginalization?
Ferdiansyah Thajib is a PhD Candidate at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. He was also an Associate Scholar at “The Researcher’s Affects project”, funded by The Volkswagen Foundation. Since 2007, he has been a member of KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. KUNCI is a research collective that focuses on critical knowledge production and sharing through cross-disciplinary encounters, action-research and vernacular education with and across community spaces. His work is situated at the intersections of theory and praxis, with specific research interests on queer modes of endurance and forms of affective entanglement in everyday life. In 2017, Ferdi joined the Institute for Queer Theory, Berlin, mainly as co-initiator of the public event series “When does it become violence?”.
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Photo: ’16. Hong bee, Zai Koh, img00′, Found photo, a part of Too Dear Discarded: The First Series 1-23, courtesy of Anang Saptoto.