Queer Futurities
– Today. Utopias and Beyond in Queer Theory

international symposium, 18/19 May 2009,
with a keynote by Lee Edelman.

Untimely utopias are inhabited by those who interrupt the here and now, who occupy positions which are yet to be articulated, who have learned to hope for times that will open up new spaces and who never cease to re-invent themselves. – María do Mar Castro Varela

Recent years have witnessed a normalizing domestication of the queer. Once held back by the closet, gays and lesbians are now basking in the public spotlight and enjoy high visibility in media, television and popular culture. They are featured in mainstream films and are targeted by advertisers as a major consumer group. What’s more, they are getting married and having children like there is no tomorrow. For some, this kind of visibility in the public sphere is a utopia come true – it is seen as political and social progress, the realization of true equality.

During the past decade, however, many activists and scholars have questioned this development and argued that it is a reactionary response, linked with neoliberal politics and privatization. One of the most ardent critics of this development, Lisa Duggan, argues that lesbian and gay politics have reached an era best described in terms of “homonormativity,” which she defines as “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions but upholds and sustains them.” Another influential queer theorist, Lee Edelman, sees the very term queer as entailing a resistance to normalized social forms – including the norm of what he calls “reproductive futurism.” For Edelman, reproductive futurism involves a faith in the consistency of the social, invoking a normative humanism that installs the image of the child as a symbolic token of a progression into the future. The pastoral faith in a shared futurity is therefore something that the queer movement might logically reject rather than embrace.

Futurities Countering Normalization Yet, if a main thrust of queer politics is to oppose normalization, does that necessarily entail jettisoning all visions of the future? Can there be a form of utopian thinking that is not idealistic or normative? Might we entertain the idea of heterotopia as a space that suggests the co-existence of different social relations? Perhaps, rather than seeing society’s turn into a “homonormative” dystopia as a failure of queer politics, one could make use of dystopia as a space of queer potentiality.

Futurities Challenging Progressive Time With the title of our conference, we not only want to proliferate the idea of “future” into “futures” but also, by introducing the term “futurities,” we want to question the idea of progressive time. This questioning includes building a different relationship between the past and the future: How can we understand political agency if the relationship between the past and the future is not mediated by the present?

Imagination Designing Futurities Finally, what is the role of imagination when we take up the question of queer futurities? Do imaginations project “a beyond” or, rather, can they be a way for futurities to inhabit contemporary social relations and political practices? How do these differing ideas of imagination materialize in cultural products or quotidian practices?


MONDAY 18.5.2009

10.00 Morning Coffee & Opening Words
11.15. Workshop
Tomasz Jarymowicz: Utopian Thinking and Queer Theory: A Difficult Relationship
Volker Woltersdorff: Apocalypse NOW! Queer Stagings of the End
Annamari Vänskä:  Figuring Out Queerness of Children in Fashion Advertising. Disfiguring Childhood Innocence, Outing the Paedophilic Mind or Paying the Price of Reproductive Futurism?
Jan Wickman: State-Sponsored Queer?
Tuula Juvonen: Productive Criticality and Queer Potentiality. A Case Study

13.15-14.30 Lunch

14.30-16:00 Talks
Katerina Kolarova: Queer Futurity Desires the Crip
Kevin S. Amiddon: Not Like Me? Toward a Queer Epistemology

16.00-16.30 Coffee break

16:30-17:30 Talks
Antu Sorainen: Queer Decency
Christien Garcia: Playing Hooky; or, Figuring as Absentee: Queer Accountability and the Praxis

17:30 Dinner and location change to the ICI – Institute for Cultural Inquiry

19.00 Keynote: Lee Edelman: Against Survival: Queerness in a Time that’s Out of Joint

21.00 Fag Bar at Ronson’s with karaoke, dancing, dark room and sleazy vintage porn cinema

TUESDAY 19.5.2009

11.00-12.15 Workshop
Jin Haritaworn: Homophobic Affect and the Militarization of Intimacy
Željko Blaće & Milo DePrieto: QueerGames and HOMOLYMPICS
Thomas O. Haakonson: Queers in Space: The Queer Art of Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset
Katherina Wiedlack: Queer: Punk Rock Expressed Rejection on Futurism

12.15-13.15 Lunch

13.15-14.15 Talk
Harri Kalha: Socializing with the Anti-Social

14.15-15.45 Talks
Tomasz Basiuk: The Arrows of Time in Samuel R. Delany?s Life Writing
Eveline Kilian: Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge and Myron as Allegories of Queer Futurities

15.45-16.15 Coffee break

16.15-17.15 Talks
Philip Pass: The Limitations of Play: Imagination and the Possibility of an idiosyncratic, BDSM Futurity
Anu Koivunen: Affect as Futurity: Queer Thinking and the Lures of the Virtual

End Discussion & Drinks & Let?s Dance!
>>> cfp
>>> program
>>> abstracts

Finland Institute in Germany, Berlin
Georgenstr. 24 (1. OG), S-Friedrichsstr.

in co-operation with SQS Queer Journal,
supported by Finland Institute and
Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICI-Berlin).