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Queering Diasporic and Secular Temporalities in Amir Baradaran’s ‘Choreographies of the Social’

Date and Time: 
Thursday, November 10, 2016. 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Humanities Center Board Room
Workshop: 
Feminisms & Queerings
Meeting Description: 

Speaker: Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh, Postdoctoral research fellow, Theater and Performance Studies

“Queering Diasporic and Secular Temporalities in Amir Baradaran’s ‘Choreographies of the Social’” engages with Elizabeth Freeman’s theorization of “temporal drag” to analyze how three performances by US-based queer Iranian new media performance artist Amir Baradaran draw critical attention to Islamophobia across state policies and Euro-American art institutions. I theorize Baradaran’s temporal drag as engaging in “a counter-genealogical practice of archiving culture’s throwaway objects, including the outmoded masculinities and femininities from which usable pasts may be extracted.” The aesthetics and modes of queer temporal desires of Baradaran’s performances emerge as he playfully utilizes cultural repertoires of “undesirable” Iranian subjects and practices to (re)animate the throw-away objects of his own embodied archive. In doing so, his performances enact counter-memories that critique national narratives that construct immigrant subjects as excessively Other. In the process, I suggest his work also interrogates the secular underpinnings of mainstream and avant-garde performance art circuits. I employ Jasbir Puar’s theorization of “homonationalism” to analyze how Baradaran’s performance art critically questions the double standards of American exceptionalism, particularly the recent U.S. political project of incorporating same-sex couples into the state-sanctioned institution of marriage, a project that seeks to include him as a proper gay citizen-subject, and the racialized constructions of the Middle Eastern “Other” that seek to exclude him from the nation-state.

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