Focaal
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Focaal

Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

Managing Editor: Luisa Steur, University of Amsterdam

Deputy Managing Editor: Alina-Sandra Cucu, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Editor-at-large: Don Kalb, Central European University and Utrecht University

Editoral Collective: 
Charlotte Bruckerman, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle
Zoltán Glück, City University of New York (CUNY)
Dimitra Kofti, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle
Christopher Krupa, University of Toronto
Manissa M. Maharawal, City University of New York (CUNY)
Elisabeth Schober, University of Oslo
Steve Stiffler, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Joe Trapido, Birkbeck College, London
Theodorra Vetta, University of Barcelona
Oane Visser, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague



Volume 2016, 3 issues per volume (spring, summer, winter)

Subjects: Anthropology

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Naming our sexualities: Secular constraints, Muslim freedoms

Katherine Pratt Ewing

Abstract

Terms of a Western discourse of homosexuality shape conflicts surrounding sexual identity that are faced by many Muslims, especially those who live in diasporic communities. Many use essentialized categories to articulate their sexual orientations and express incommensurabilities between their sexuality and their identities as Muslims. This article argues that discursive constructions of the Muslim as traditional other to the secular sexual subject of a modern democracy generate an uninhabitable subject position that sharply dichotomizes sexual orientations and Muslim family/religious orientations, a dichotomization that is reinforced by well-publicized backlashes against open homosexuality in several Muslim countries. Yet observations made during ethnographic field research in Pakistan, as well as scholarly evidence from other Muslim countries, suggest that many Muslims are less troubled by sex and desire in all their possible forms than they are by the peculiar modern practice of naming our sexualities as the basis for secular public identities.

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