Academic journal article Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Queer of Colour Formations and Translocal Spaces in Europe

Academic journal article Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Queer of Colour Formations and Translocal Spaces in Europe

Article excerpt

Our joint intervention explores Queer People of Colour (QpoC) positionalities as a valuable lens through which to rethink the racial and colonial imaginaries of subjects and space in Europe. It brings together race, gender, class, colonialism and sexuality, inseparably, in a shared analytic. We address multiple erasures: of genders, sexualities and race from discussions of space; of QPoC in Europe from discussions of European subjects, race and space; and from US-centric QPoC studies. Europeans are generally presumed to be homogeneously white, while racialized subjects are generally presumed to be uniformly straight and cis. Rarely is space understood as a formation that is co-constituted through sexualities with other relations of power. Our intervention radically rethinks urban environments in their relation to race, subjects and agencies. It also puts QPoC in Europe on the map.

We recognize that the categories 'queer' and 'of colour' are contingent, contested and unfinished. They tend to reinforce US-centricity and to erase differences within and across gender and sexually non-conforming, racialized and colonized collectivities across the Global North and the South. The term 'people of colour' often travels to Europe in ways that keep Europe white and the US hegemonic, and dismiss local antiracist and anti-imperialist struggles as inauthentic and derivative. Similarly, 'queer' often circulates in ways that universalize white colonial genders and sexualities, while erasing all others, including the working-class dykes of colour in the U.S. described by Gloria Anzaldua (1991, 2007), for whom queer was an important alternative to homonormative identifiers (Bacchetta, 2002; Bacchetta, Falquet and Alarcon, 2012). The assimilation of'queer' (and often 'queer of colour') into white-dominated academic formations in Europe has done nothing to contest how racialized people are inscribed as deficient, inferior and disentitled to life chances on account of their failed masculinities, femininities and heterosexualities (El-Tayeb, 2003; Haritaworn, 2005). Instead, it unproblematically coincides with the increased criminalization, pathologization, displacement, and/or spatial confinement of racialized populations.

This project hopes to show that despite these indisputable problems, both 'queer' and 'people of colour' can and should be mobilized to describe the radical interventions of QPoC into a European landscape from which they remain violently excluded. We acknowledge that identities and allegiances are multilayered and shifting, but at this point in history, the category of 'QPoC' allows European QPoC activists, and allows us as scholars coming out of this context, to trace connections that are more complex than dominant U.S. and Eurocentric narratives imply, while also exploring the specifics of the European situation. This is a situation that affects the whole continent: the intersection of race, gender and sexuality that reliably produces white Europe as the center of progress, civilization and democracy since the days of the Enlightenment, continues to shape national as well as transnational structures (Fabian, 1983). However, we initially focus our intervention on Northwest Europe. This is in part due to the nature of our earlier work, which is located within this region. Today much attention is given to the violence and murderous aspects of the refugee situation in southern and eastern Europe. However, long before this horrifying situation caught the media's attention, daily incidents of violence against PoC, most often Black, Roma or Muslim, were the largely ignored not-so-new normal in these and other parts of Europe.

QPoC and space

Today, racial and colonial violence is often legitimized in the name of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) spaces from dangerous and degenerate hateful others. An increasing body of writing highlights how current modes of power and control give rise to gender and sexual normativities that interpellate white and racialized populations unevenly. …

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