Queer Migrations: Transnational Sexualities in Theory and Practice

13 March 2020

SG1/2, CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

Further details about this conference will be made available in the near future. 

Please email conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk if you would like to be kept informed about the event, or have any other questions. 



Geoffrey Maguire (University of Cambridge)

Leila Mukhida (University of Cambridge)

Tiffany Page (University of Cambridge)


Keynote speaker

Professor Gayatri Gopinath (Director, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality; NYU)



Critical debates in migration and diaspora studies have long ignored issues of sexuality and queerness. The figures of the migrant and the refugee have become normalised as cis-gender and heterosexual through cultural, political and media narratives, as well as in academic discourse. Mainstream references to LGBTQ+ migrants are exceptional and tend towards placing these subjects within a problematic Western-centric narrative of global mobility as ‘the movement from repression to freedom’ (Grewal and Kaplan 2001). The objective of this conference is twofold: firstly, to restore visibility to the queer migrant in cultural, sociological, political, theoretical and methodological debates on globality and migration; and secondly, to challenge the socio-political and racialised narrativization of the queer migrant experience as a journey from the ‘backward’ global South to the ‘progressive’ global North. In so doing, this interdisciplinary conference will itself perform a kind of ‘queering’, rupturing stable, linear and Western conceptions of migration, and rethinking the ways in which queer bodies are perceived, represented and choose to move and travel through space. 

Given that the visibility of LGBTQ+ communities has increased more broadly over the last decade in legal and societal terms, this conference will examine the relative invisibility of such minorities within contemporary discourses of (im)migration. Where queer migrant experiences arerendered visible – in queer transnational scholarship, for example, or in visual culture and literary works – our goal is to identify those counter-narratives that challenge the abovementioned fantasy of global mobility, and to consider the impact of these counter-narratives on migration and diaspora studies more broadly. To this end, the conference will bring together scholars in the fields of cultural studies, sociology, postcolonial studies, politics and ethnic studies, migration, transnational and queer studies in an attempt to better understand, in both theory and practice, the politics of crossing geographic, linguistic, cultural and heteronormative boundaries. In particular, the conference will focus on the migration of the term ‘queer’ itself; as a number of critics have pointed out, the Anglocentrism of the term’s history may be considered as ‘a postcolonial affront’ (Sifuentes-Jáuregui 2014) within regions of the world that have developed along distinct economic, political and historical axes. In this way, the conference responds to recent calls to ‘queer the transnational turn’ (Chiang and Wong 2016), fomenting research across and between disciplines that critically examines the power dynamics of queer migration and provides the theoretical tools to discuss such concepts in a rigorous, inclusive manner. 


Call for Papers

We invite proposals for ten-minute position papers, or alternative forms of presentation, creative practice or performance, on any of the topics or disciplines mentioned above. Proposals should include a 200-word abstract and be sent to queermigrations2020@gmail.com by 2nd December 2019. Participants will be required to circulate a longer paper (if applicable) to all speakers at least one week before the conference.

A small number of travel grants may be available for postgraduate, early-career, part-time and independent scholars. Please indicate in your proposal if you would like to be considered for one of these awards. The registration fee will be £10 (full) and £5 (reduced).





Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) and lgbtQ+@cam.