An introductory Q&A with the Global Conversations Towards Queer Social Justice research network (2021 – 2022).
Q. How did Global Conversations Towards Queer Social Justice come about?
The research network Global Conversations Towards Queer Social Justice emerged from the interdisciplinary collaboration we have been building as co-convenors for the past three years. This includes our work within several previous projects, all of which used creative methods to explore intersections of queer lives with social justice. The foundations for our thinking were laid thanks to the seminar series Methods in Question: Epistemologies of Gender and Sexuality that Dr Hakan Sandal-Wilson has been convening at Cambridge since 2018. Reading queer kinship and reproductive justice, as well as scholarship and activism together was the topic of the Making Families project, co-convened by Dr Marcin Smietana with Prof. Charis Thompson and Prof Sarah Franklin at UC Berkeley and Cambridge between 2016 and 2018. The questions that animate our research network became clear after the CRASSH- and lgbtQ+@cam sponsored conference Queering Authoritarianisms: Conflict, Resistance and Coloniality that Dr Sandal-Wilson and Dr Smietana convened in March 2021. A formative part of that conference was the ‘Writing in Conflict, Writing in Community’ workshop, led by Dr Natasha Tanna. We owe the use of creative and interdisciplinary methodologies to the series of workshops Creaction: Critical Interventions for Social Justice that Dr Tanna and Dr Sandal-Wilson co-convened with Dr Abeyamí Ortega (University of Manchester) in summer 2021. Of crucial importance has also been our work within lgbtQ+@cam, which is the research network’s co-sponsor alongside CRASSH.
Q. By definition, a CRASSH Research Network has an interdisciplinary question at its core. What is yours?
The interdisciplinary question at the heart of the research network Global Conversations Towards Queer Social Justice is how we can think expansively about social justice. As the network’s co-convenors, our different disciplinary backgrounds in Political Sociology (Dr Hakan Sandal-Wilson, University of Cambridge), Reproductive Sociology (Dr Marcin Smietana, University of Cambridge), and Literary/Cultural Studies (Dr Natasha Tanna, University of York) have enabled us to explore this question. We have been working collaboratively with artists and activists to foster spaces for interdisciplinary international conversations to draw on and challenge some of the norms and forms of each of our disciplines.
Q. Could you tell us a bit more about this year’s convenors, speakers and attendees and the perspectives they bring to the discussion?
Global Conversations Towards Queer Social Justice are going to take place with the participation of academics, activists and artists. We will be exploring six themes directly related to social justice through queer lenses: Queering Race/Anti-Racism; Health Inequalities and Reproductive Justice; Queer Ecological Justice; Queer Dis/abilities; Housing, Homelessness, and Class; Queering Religious Conflict. One thread running through these conversations is the migratory experience and migrapolitics. Through considering flows of people, ideas, and capital, we seek not to essentialise particular places, and to be attentive to sites sometimes excluded from the notion of the ‘global’. Each theme will feature two events: (1) a reading group, moderated by the authors of the texts, including one early career scholar and one more established scholar and (2) an exploration of creative methods for understanding and addressing social justice issues, research, and praxis, such as film-making and creative writing.
Q. What can we expect from Global Conversations Towards Queer Social Justice in 2021/22?
We aim to locate queer subjects and subjectivities at the very heart of ‘social justice’ to re-think justice, and its transnational aspects through creative methods and methodologies. We take a broad approach to the notion of ‘social justice’, which we understand as including racial justice, climate justice, and human engagements with the more-than-human world. By bringing together artists, activists, and scholars to emphasise the importance of cross-disciplinary exchanges, and by attending to the discomfort these exchanges may bring about, we aim to expand our discussions around the ways in which conventional research methods render invisible certain subjects or beings, and dislocate them from the discussions around social justice. Our experience in thinking about queer approaches to social justice through an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective has made it clear to us that these conversations do not only broaden our horizons around theories of justice but also have significant impact on the lived experience of social (in)justice.
Q. How can people learn more about your Network?
Please visit the research network’s web page on the CRASSH website, which we will be gradually updating – and do join us for our network meetings! Our meetings in Michaelmas term in autumn 2021 are going to be on zoom, and they are open to anyone upon registration.
You can also follow the network on Twitter.