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Second Syracuse University transnationalizing LGBT conference to be held in Madrid

June 15, 2011

Brittany Cole

On July 3-5, an international conference, “LGBT/Queer Studies: Toward Trans/national Scholarly and Activist Kinships, ” will be held in Madrid as a follow-up to the September 2010 “Transnationalizing LGBT Studies” conference on campus organized by Syracuse University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies program. 

The conference will be the second major event supported by a 2009-11 Chancellor’s Leadership Project award given to the LGBT Studies program at SU. The international conference hopes to engage the global LGBT community in a conversation that addresses questions such as: What matrices of power make some queer figures more visible than others? What new forms of scholarship and activism emerge as people, images, ideas and capital move in rapid, uneven and complex ways across national borders? How might practices of kinship, however tense or contingent, happen? 

“Those of us interested in LGBT/Queer Studies face the exciting challenge of understanding and responding to the complexly lived lives of queer subjects as those lives are shaped by local and global upheavals and opportunities,” says Margaret Himley, co-director of the LGBT Studies Program and professor of writing and rhetoric in The Writing Program. 

The Madrid conference will feature participants from 27 countries and five continents, and several prominent speakers and organizations in the international queer advocacy and activism community to encourage dialogue between scholars and activists across the globe. 

The first keynote speaker is Zackie Achmat, founder and former chairman of South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). He has been a leader in gay rights movements and an advocate for better healthcare for AIDS patients in South Africa since the early 1990s. Achmat’s honors include a Desmond Tutu Leadership Award, the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and a fellowship from Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. 

Sunil Gupta will speak on the evening of July 4. Gupta works as a photographer, writer and curator out of London and Delhi. He is a member of Nigah, a queer collective in Delhi. He was involved in the founding of Autograph (Association of Black Photographers) in London, and he also set up the Organisation for Visual Arts (OVA), to promote a greater understanding of questions regarding cultural differences and their incorporation into the sphere of fine art. His work has been exhibited around the world and is currently on display at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in the exhibition, “Love’s Body 2″ on AIDS and photography. His next book “Queer: Sunil Gupta” will be published by Prestel in April 2011. 

Also speaking on July 4 is Ghadir Hilmi. Hilmi is a feminist Palestinian queer activist. She joined Aswat, an organization that united feminist, queer, occupation and resistance perspectives into one monumental struggle for equality and freedom, in 2008. She is a coordinator for organizational development and public relations, and represents Aswat in local and global events to voice the intersections of the Palestinian-Feminist-Queer struggle. 

The final keynote speaker is Jin Haritaworn, a Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies fellow. Haritaworn works intellectually, politically and creatively at the nexus of critical race, gender and sexuality theory. Following doctoral work on cultural and biographical representations of Thainess, mixed race and queer diaspora in Britain and Germany (forthcoming with Ashgate), Haritaworn ‘s current project deals with homonationalist travels in Europe and trans-Atlantically. Haritaworn’s address, “Regenerating Degenerate Bodies and Spaces: Transnational Queer Activations of ‘the Ghetto,’” will be the final talk before the final reception on the evening of Tuesday, July 5. 

The conference received about 200 submissions from all over the world, and hopes to produce some form of publication as a result of the event. About 700 people from all over the world have signed up for the Transnationalizing LGBT Studies project listserv.  

Organizational support for the conference has been provided by the faculty affiliates of SU’s LGBT Studies Program and some faculty from SU’s Department of Language, Literatures and Linguistics in The College of Arts and Sciences, as well as by the faculty and staff at SU Madrid.  

“This conference is the culmination of several years of collective work that has moved SU’s LGBT Studies Program toward the inclusion of more, and more-nuanced, understandings of transnational perspectives and experiences in our scholarship and pedagogy,” says Andrew S. London, co-director of the LGBT Studies program. “We have been humbled by the huge demand for scholarship and dialogue on LGBT/Queer Studies, as well as the complexities of organizing and communicating transnationally.”

For more information regarding Transnationalizing LGBT Studies project and the July conference in Madrid, visit

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