Postcolonial Intimacies

full name / name of organization: 
Critical Intimacy Reading Group, McMaster University
contact email: 
postcolonialintimacies@gmail.com

Energized by cross-disciplinary investigations, the new field of intimacy studies generates epistemological sites akin to what Foucault, writing on the instrumentality of sexuality, identifies as “dense transfer point[s] for relations of power.” To scrutinize the affective orientations that shape habits of everyday living is not to dislodge local and contemporary coordinates of gestures from global and historical ones; rather, this close examination re-textures our understandings of the complex regulation of bodily subjectivity (Butler; Fanon; Grosz; Mbembe; Ahmed) and makes it possible for us to re-imagine interpersonal interactions (violence, conviviality, attraction, dis/comfort, humour) and their entangled attachments to macro-histories of belonging, displacements and dispossession.

To consider the logic of intimacy is not solely to study domesticity, romantic and/or sexual relations, then, but to question the places and the supposed non-places of intimacy. In other words, the logic of intimacy draws our attention to the “precarious [domains of] affections” (Boym). For instance, Svetlana Boym’s work on intimacy focuses on the “inadequacies of translation,” motivating her to argue that “diasporic intimacy is dystopian by definition.” Moreover, Lisa Lowe regards intimacy in terms of “proximity or adjacent connection,” leading her to coin the phrase “the intimacies of four continents” as a way “to discuss a world division of labour emerging in the nineteenth century.” Scholars such as Laurent Berlant and Ann Laura Stoler have examined the geographies and politics of intimacy, and, in doing so, have interrogated “the making of the private and the managing of the intimate in the making of imperial rule” (Stoler).

Extending beyond Stoler’s investigation of intimacy in the context of 19th and early 20th century imperial rule, our inquiry includes both historical and contemporary global inequities that grow out of differently fractured nodes of power. As Andrew Shryock has noted, the existing scholarship on intimacy has yet to adequately engage postcolonial realities since scholarly engagement with the intimate—with the particulars of everyday life—has consistently been “construed as irrelevant or antithetical to the transnational, postcolonial, and resistance-oriented agendas that animate the most compelling approaches to public culture.” Thus, we invite essays that take up the making of the private and the managing of the intimate in order to link the histories of ostensibly private spaces to globalization and postcoloniality. That is to say, we are particularly interested in essays that examine intimacy in relation to globalization and postcoloniality; that study the affective vectors of global/ postcolonial politics and power; and that critically attend to the emotions that shape and that are lodged within narratives of liberation, progress, mobility and re-connection.

In this light, “Postcolonial Intimacies” relocates the concept of intimacy to conditions of post-colonial exchanges, with inter- and intra-continental circuits of passionate politics, and to acts and interested networks of globalization, with all its economic, ecological, immunological, and informational concerns (Benhabib). Although it has been commonplace to view globalization and postcoloniality as patterns of practice, production, and consumption of identities, we want to reposition and thus claim these ideological frameworks as knowledge systems of intimacy. We do so in order to intricately link both worlds’ framing to corporeal vulnerability; to widespread economic and institutional breakdowns; and to global and neo-liberal capitalism that has long been shaping the cultural and political livelihoods of affected communities. To these ends, we want to ask grounded questions about the emotional economy of belonging, labour and migration; ethics and responsibility; and the affective and cultural tensions surrounding public and private demonstrations of care, comfort, familiarity and/or unease.

Areas of inquiry for submissions may include, but are not limited to, the following topics and questions:

• Geographies of intimacies: “the intimacies of four continents” (Lisa Lowe); “diaspora space” (Avtar Brah)
• The legislation of intimacies in relation to race, gender, and sexuality (early and contemporary racial states; multicultural policies; immigration policies; refugee documents)
• “Diasporic intimacy” (Paul Gilroy); diasporas (e.g. African; Asian; European; Intra-Continental; Indigenous) and intimacy
• “Global intimacy” (Diana Brydon)
• Global capital and the aestheticization of pleasure and struggle
• Material objects (like spices; sugar; tobacco; textiles) as transfer points of knowledge and power
• Mass public entertainments (like blackface minstrelsy, melodrama) as public intimacy
• Postcolonial literature and culture (including novels, poetry, new media/public communication, journalism, documentary, photographs) as an archive of intimacy
• What links intimacy to bodies? What must a body be and/or do in order for something outside of it to crave (emotional, physical, violent) proximity, contact, or involvement? How do we conceptualize corporeal responsiveness and its relationship to ethics/politics? (Sara Ahmed)
• Militarism, masculinity, prisons, sexuality and trauma
• Cosmopolitanism, traveling, tourism and intimacy
• Filial vs. affiliative (Said) intimacies
• Transnational and cross-racial adoptions
• Intimacy and the failures of postcoloniality and globalization
• Narratives of return and postmemory
• Settlers and colonial (un)settlement

Submission Procedure:
1) Abstracts of no more than 300-500 words should be sent to postcolonialintimacies@gmail.com no later than April 30, 2010.
2) Attach a short biographical note.
3) Type “Intimacy” in the subject line of your email.

Editorial Committee:
Phanuel Antwi, Sarah Brophy, Helene Strauss, and Y-Dang Troeung

cfp categories: 
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
gender_studies_and_sexuality
popular_culture
postcolonial
theory
twentieth_century_and_beyond