Visualizing sexuality, preaching tolerance, promoting integration: the cultural politics of displaying 'mixed couples'
(University of Amsterdam)
Rahma Bavelaar (University of Amsterdam)
Shifra Kisch (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
Focusing on a controversy about a poster campaign that depicts 'mixed couples' intimately kissing to promote free partner choice, coproduced by a feminist group and an ethnonationalist party, we analyze the audiences it addresses and the work it does through critical engaging with femonationalism.
Paper long abstract:
In the spring of 2017 the City Council of Rotterdam launched a poster campaign depicting 'mixed couples' intimately kissing with as framing text: 'In the Netherlands you choose your partner yourself'. This campaign involved the collaboration of rather distinct parties, including the feminist organization Femmes-For-Freedom (promoting marital freedom and gender equality), that had devised the campaign, and Ronald Schneider of Leefbaar Rotterdam ('Liveable Rotterdam', an ethno-nationalist populist party), the municipal alderman for integration, who launched the campaign.
In our paper we first analyze the work this campaign does, comparing the imagery presented with earlier Benetton campaigns that also engaged with visualizing/producing gender, ethnicity/race and nationality. We discuss the politics involved in this poster campaign, through a focus on the different audiences it addresses, using the concept of femonationalism as coined by Sara Farris. We then critically engage with the underlying themes, the relation of mixed marriages to integration and the notion of 'the right to fall in love'. We end with a note on the different styles of representation Femmes-For-Freedom has opted for when it moved the poster campaign to Amsterdam
Tangles of late liberalism: sexuality, nationalism, and the politics of race in Europe [EASA ENQA and ARE networks]