Accepted Paper:

Photographing Same-Sex Desire: Race, Gender and the History of Sexuality  
Andrew Gayed (York University, Toronto Canada)

Paper short abstract:

I historicize homosociality in Middle Eastern art to better investigate contemporary photography, aesthetics of intimacy, and Queer diasporic art. In studying contemporary photography I contribute to the study of Islamicate homoeroticism historically and bridge the gap with modern sexual discourses.

Paper long abstract:

I will historicize homosociality within Middle Eastern art in order to better investigate contemporary photography, and the Queer political work that is being produced by diasporic artists. This investigation will nuance Middle Eastern Art research and cultural studies by historicizing the intersection of Queer theory, Middle Eastern art, and issues of masculinity and the aesthetics of intimacy; it is this focus of Middle Eastern contemporary art that I am on the cutting edge. My timely research emphasizes intersectional themes of race, power, and imperialism, in addition to researching the political artwork that is associated with the diasporic community.

This paper will discuss Middle Eastern homosexuality and focus on issues of Modernity, multiple Modernities, and the West's claim to Modernity. With issues of colonialism, orientalism, and intercultural encounters being the focus of analysis, this discussion will have us thinking about Arab homo-sexualities in terms of desire and alternative masculinities rather than Western notions of homosexuality predicated in homonormative models of visibility and coming out.

Using contemporary photography as the case study within my analysis, I will contribute to the study of Islamicate homoerotic aesthetics historically in addition to bridging the gap with modern sexual discourses. A cause-and-effect relationship between historical and contemporary histories of desire, I believe, is demonstrated in the photographic artwork of contemporary artists currently living in the Middle East or the diaspora. The study of historical visual culture concurrently with contemporary art and photography can better illustrate how the history of same-sex desire in the Middle East is currently manifested and negotiated by artists both locally and transnationally.

Panel P049
Beauty and the Beast: photography, the body and sexual discourse in the Middle East and Central Eurasia