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Yaariyan, Baithak, Gupshup: Queer Feminist Formations and the Global South


Naveen Minai and Sara Shroff: We introduce yaariyan (friendship), gupshup (a mode of speaking), and baithak (a mode of space) to theorize our queer feminist care as research practices. We use these practices to hold each other accountable and to reorient our research questions, frameworks, and genealogies. We use them to challenge the networks of authority that demand we make gender and sexuality in and from the global south knowable, legible, and visible only on certain terms. We mark Pakistan as a site for theorizing and worldmaking instead of just a site of fieldwork. Ultimately, we are asking the difficult questions of what decolonial means in Pakistan. So while we focus on our yaariyan as a mode of survival, pleasure, and accountability, it also serves as the means through which we find and engage our interlocutors in responsible and respectful ways. Our goal is to think with rather than for, to interrogate our assumptions of authenticity and authority, and to expose the multiple and different forms of power within processes of knowledge production.

[…] To borrow from Sadia Abbas, the global south is seen as a tabula rasa where you can experiment and empiricize – but never theorize (Abbas 2010). As one such site, Pakistan is often marked as a space where gender and sexuality (as categories, as nomenclatures, as theories, as frames) must be introduced, invented, and curated. This is not just about whiteness. This is also about the ways in which racial, gender, and class privilege travels between global north and global south: white saviors, brown saviors. We argue here that the queer, feminist, and trans communities in the global south need neither. We challenge the conditions under which global south knowledges “arrive” in academia as archivable and absolute truths by asking: what are our responsibilities and to whom? What does it mean to put Black queer and feminist epistemologies next to epistemologies deployed by feminist, queer, and trans communities in Pakistan to navigate and negotiate state violence? How do we start to read across different frames to disrupt dominant interpretations of gender, sexuality, Pakistan, South Asia, and global south? What does queer and feminist mean in Pakistan and what do these meanings tell us about colonial legacies, neo-imperialisms, and global/racial capital? More here.

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