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Accepted Paper:

Queer mutualism in pandemic times: reflections on care  
Ali Venir (Utrecht University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on fieldwork research on queer social movements in Bologna (IT) during the pandemic, this paper will examine queer mutualism, discussing its material limitations and its and political and discursive implications concerning care and the social reproduction of queer movements.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on my current PhD project, drawing on fieldwork research done in Bologna (IT) during the first year of pandemic. It will merge my involvement in the subject as both a queer activist and as a researcher, investigating queer social movements, collectives and networks.

Taking pandemic urban Italy as a setting, I will critically reflect on queer mutualism (“mutualismo queer”, i.e. grassroots queer mutual aid networks drawing on different local and transnational heritages of worker’s mutual aid, HIV activism, feminist anti-violence centers – CAV, etc.) in such context. Despite its often limited material impact, queer mutualism’s importance resides especially in its discursive opposition to a narrow, productivity-oriented and familistic notion of care which was and is prevalent in contemporary Italian society, especially during the beginning of pandemic. Moreover, queer mutualism is politically significant in resetting the queer political agenda from being seemingly merely concerned with civil rights to addressing social rights, class issues and the material conditions of queer lives.

I will also reflect on the impediments and difficulties encountered in the enactment of queer mutualism, especially concerning issues of horizontality, mutuality, affective resistance to being cared for and to care for, as well as the fragility and precariousness of the networks. Such difficulties emerge clearly in the social reproduction of the movements themselves, which is also a labor of care, and reflecting on them can help to imagine alternatives to both current conceptualizations of care and to the organization of queer social movements.

Panel P173a
Transforming the future: Gender/sexual citizenship and the horizons of hope [Network for the Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality]
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -