ESS past sessions

ESS Session 4

Wednesday, 12 May 2021 Speaker: Dr Suhraiya Jivraj

Talk – Beyond the ‘conflict’ of religion and sexuality in racialised communities: Re-presencing Muslim QTPOC scholarship and praxis


Suhraiya Jivraj is Co-Director of the Centre for Sexuality, Race & Gender Justice at Kent Law School, University of Kent. She is joint Co-ordinator of the Decolonizing Sexualities Network (DSN) of scholars and civil society activists working across issues of race, religion, sexuality and gender. She is co-editor of the best-selling 2016 open-access collection ‘Decolonizing Sexualities: Transnational Perspectives, Critical Interventions’ (2016) and most recently (2020) co-edited a special issue of Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies entitled: ‘Decolonial Trajectories: Praxes and Challenges’.

Her contribution to decolonial studies also includes knowledge co-production with students of colour on decolonising and antiracist pedagogy (see here). She is author of Towards an Anti-racist legal pedagogy: A Resource (see here) available for teachers to download for free. She is also s co-editor of a forthcoming volume of international perspectives on ‘Decolonising Legal Pedagogy (forthcoming, 2022, Routledge).

Her earlier work includes a monograph ‘The Religion of Law: Race, Citizenship and Children’s belonging’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) which examines juridical conceptualisations of religion and its relationship with ‘race’ in family law and education law and policy. Her subsequent journal publications explore these issues interrogating the co-imbrications of ‘religion’ and ‘secularity’ in relation to British/universal values and their regulatory impact on racially minoritised people. She is currently collaborating with Muslim women-led initiatives on intersectional inequalities beyond the binary of religion and secularism.

Beyond the ‘conflict’ of religion and sexuality in racialised communities: Re-presencing Muslim QTPOC scholarship and praxis. 

Public and socio-political understanding of the impact of intersectional discrimination and inequalities in society remains dire. This is particularly true in relation to gender and sexual minorities within racialised communities in Europe despite sexual orientation and religion being two of the newer protected characteristics under EU equalities law. In fact, these two grounds have generated a significant body of case law perpetuating the public notion that they exist in conflict with each other, or that there is a trade-off between them. This situation is compounded further in situations involving minority religion, intensifying fraught debates on integration, community cohesion, and immigration, as seen in the 2019 controversy in the UK surrounding protests by Muslim parents outside a Birmingham school against their LGBT equality lessons. These debates are replicated elsewhere across Europe and beyond.

In this polarised context tackling the inter-relationalities of homophobia and Islamophobia/racism together, becomes practically impossible (Jivraj et al, 2011). Yet there is scant literature that analyses these complex inequalities from a critical intersectional approach. Even critical sociological perspectives (e.g. Holmwood et al, 2017) leave absent the lived reality dimensions of critical Muslim LGBTQI+ or Queer, Trans people of colour (QTPOC) perspectives conceptualised by QTPOC scholars or indeed the intellectual ancestors of women of colour scholars who came before them. This results in dominant power relations of who speaks for/as the subaltern remaining hidden, thereby erasing the importance of grassroots initiatives that work to improve the lives of those most marginalised in local communities.

Using a decolonial studies method and ethics (Smith, 2012) – as a participant researcher – this paper explores and analyses the creative approaches of QTPOC grassroots activism for self-empowerment through transnational solidarity and social justice politics. I draw on empirical research analysing the collaborative transnational work of the Decolonizing Sexualities Network (DSN), now celebrating its ten-year anniversary and which has contributed to the emergence of a sub-field of queer/trans of colour (QTOC) critique (Haritaworn; El-Tayeb, Bachetta et al, 2015 and 2018;) and queer decoloniality (Jivraj et al, 2020). I focus on the work of queer/trans Muslims as part of the DSN’s most recent transnational solidarity and coalitional work through its series of ‘Decolonial cafes’ started in 2019 which brings together creatives, scholar activists, and others from different geographical locations. I also draw on my work with the Muslim woman led Inclusive Mosque Initiative whose activities support Muslim women and LGBTQI+ people experiencing the impact of intersecting socio-economic and educational inequalities in society as well as co-existing enduring patriarchal traditions and community-based prejudices including anti-blackness and homophobia. Drawing on this intellectual and activist work I explore how civil society initiatives addressing the relationship between gender and sexual diversity amongst racialised communities can inform new, and more effective, approaches to intersecting inequalities that anti-discrimination and equalities law is currently failing to address.


Bacchetta, P., El-Tayeb, F., and Haritaworn. J. 2015. “Queer of Colour Formations and Translocal Spaces in Europe.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 33(5):769–78.

Bacchetta, P., El-Tayeb, F., Haritaworn, J., Hernandez, J., Smythe, S.A., Thompson, V.E., and Willoughby-Herard. T. 2018. “Queer of Color Space-Making in and beyond the Academic Industrial Complex.” Critical Ethnic Studies 4(1): 44-63.

Bakshi, S., Jivraj, S., and Posocco, S. 2016. Decolonizing Sexualities: Transnational Perspectives, and Critical Interventions. Edited by S. Jivraj, S. Bakshi, and S. Posocco. Counter Press. Available at:

Holmwood, J. and O’Toole, T. 2017. Countering Extremism in British Schools? The Truth about the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair. Bristol: Policy Press.

Jivraj, S., Bakshi, S. and Posocco, S. 2020. “Decolonial Trajectories: Praxes and Challenges”, Interventions. 22(4):451-463.

Jivraj, S. and de Jong, A. 2011. “The Silencing Effects of the Dutch Homo-emancipation Policy on Queer Muslim Organising”, Feminist Legal Studies 19(2):143-58.

Mignolo, W. and Vazquez, R. (2013). Decolonial AestheSis: Colonial Wounds/Decolonial Healings in Mignolo, W. and Vasquez, R (eds) ‘The Decolonial AestheSis Dossier’. Social Text Online:

Tuhiwai Smith, L. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Zed Books.

ESS Session 3

Wednesday, 9th December 2020 Speaker: Professor Holly Furneaux
Professor in the School of English at Cardiff University, Holly Furneaux is currently leading a project ‘Strange Meetings: Enemy Encounters 1800-2020’. This explores emotional and material exchanges across sides in literature and life-writing with attention to truces, battle aftermath, and prisoners of war. Her previous books include Military Men of Feeling: Emotion, Touch and Masculinity in the Crimean War (2016) and Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities (2009). She curated an exhibition ‘Created in Conflict: Soldier Art from the Crimean War to the Present’ at Compton Verney in 2018 and was adviser to the BBC’s Dickensian (screened 2015-16).Enemy Encounters: Fellow Feeling and its Others In the best-known accounts of enemy encounters produced by Wilfred Owen and Tim O’Brien, enmity quickly transforms into fellow feeling as the other is found to be more similar than different. This resonates with many soldiers’ accounts of finding those on the other side “just like us”. This paper looks at the politics of commonality with the enemy – thinking through the significance of shared culture, class, rank, homosociality, and feelings of difference from civilians at home. The paper focuses on the limits to fellow feeling, particularly those structured by race and religion. Using a combination of soldiers’ writings, poetry and fiction I explore the British treatment of a range of Black and white adversaries in Africa in the later nineteenth century. I ask how far the racist ideologies that underpinned empire were challenged by direct military encounters. I reflect on the challenges of realising an aspiration to attend to the voices and experiences of those on either side. Discussant: Professor Sara Thornton (LARCA) Zoom link: is mandatory. Please register in advance at the link above.


ESS Session 2

The second session of the ‘Empires, South, Sexualities’ seminar took place on Wednesday 13th November 2019 at the Université de Paris. 047dd569-b87d-4765-9135-d8c6887ffd57 Dr Carmel Christy K J gave a paper entitled ‘De-casteing’ Gender: Challenges to Knowing the Intimate Self’. Her respondent was Dr Sandeep Bakshi (University of Paris, LARCA). Carmel Christy K J, an anti-caste feminist scholar, is Assistant Professor of Journalism at Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi. She has been working on the interrelationship between caste and gender in the public space, caste and higher education and more recently, on urban space-making and religion in Cochin. She has held positions as a Fulbright Postdoctoral fellow at UCSC (2015-2016), International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden (2018-2019) and is currently a visiting scholar at FMSH, Paris.

ESS Session 1

The first session of the research seminar “Empires, Souths, Sexualities” took place on Wednesday 29th May 2019.  Paola Bacchetta (Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at University of California, Berkeley) gave a paper entitled “Beyond Deadly Encounters: Reflections on Transnational Decolonial Feminist and Queer of Color Alliances.” Picture1 Her respondents were Ludmila Toualbia (Université de Paris) & Marielle Lippmann (Université de Paris).
ABSTRACT “Beyond Deadly Encounters: Reflections on Transnational Decolonial Feminist and Queer of Color Alliances”

This presentation’s focus is on how feminists and queers of color, and ultimately feminists and queers of all colors, come together or not in alliances for radical political transformation. It concerns a range of practices that Bacchetta calls co-motion, defined as a large rubric for diverse phenomena such as coalitions, solidarities, alliances, networks, linkages, convergences, unities and other political encounters. In this talk, Bacchetta specifically focusses upon what she calls deadly encounters, or alliances that fail miserably by (inadvertently) constructing, enhancing, reinforcing or enacting the genocidal logics, and symbolic, psychic, materialized obliteration, of the subaltern subjects they implicate or not in the alliance. Bacchetta asks: why does co-motion fail? How might we rethink and re-enact alliances to get free together, to create and live a different present and futurity in our times?


Paola Bacchetta is Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at University of California, Berkeley. She is also Co-Chair of the Initiative on Political Conflict, Gender and Peoples’ Rights, and an Advisory Board member of Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, and the Center for Right-Wing Studies. She is the former Coordinator of the Gender Consortium at Berkeley that represents all of Berkeley’s research and teaching units on gender, and Executive Committee member of the California-wide Center for New Racial Studies. Some of Professor Bacchetta’s books include: Co-Motion: On Feminist and Queer of Color Alliances (Durham: Duke University Press, forthcoming); Global Raciality: Empire, Postcoloniality, and Decoloniality (co-edited with Sunaina Maira and Howard Winant, New York: Routledge, 2019); Femminismi Queer Postcoloniali: critiche transnazionali all’omofobia, all’islamofobia e all’omonazionalismo (co-edited with Laura Fantone. Verona, Italy: Ombre Corte, 2015); Gender in the Hindu Nation: RSS Women as Ideologues (Delhi, India: Women Ink, 2004); Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists around the World (co-edited with Margaret Power, New York: Routledge, 2002). Professor Bacchetta has published over sixty journal articles and book chapters on her research o feminist and queer of color theories and practices, political conflict, space, in multiple languages. Her most recent publications, interviews and talks are available at:

Outline of the talk:
INTRODUCTION co-motion deadly encounters visualities multiplicities and their operaability  FAILED ALLIANCES deadly encounters  
  1. Resisting Colonial Obliteration
dominant strategic self-victimization rush-to-save white-outand voice-overjob plural singularization feminist substitutionalism
  1. Resisting Queer of Color Diasporic Colonial Erasure
logic of genocide
  1. Resisting Spectacular Eradication
xenophobic xenophilia redface (blackface) spice
  1. Resisting with Spectacular Unintelligibility
the production of misrecognition the production of unseen resistance
  1. Resisting Obliteration-By-Rescue 
CONCLUDING REMARKS multiplicites of relations of power inadvertent reiteration/repetition as reinforcement homonationalist assimilationism and/as murderous inclusion unlearning   the production of reliable subjects
Photos from the session: