Workshop. Queerness and Gender Diversity in/to Migration: Norms, Discourses, Control Mechanisms / IFEA

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26 April 2024, the French Institute for Anatolian Studies (IFEA) in İstanbul, Türkiye

This workshop, which will gather scholars, students, practitioners, and civil society actors working in the fields of gender, sexuality, migrations, queer studies and related fields, aims at unravelling the role of surveillance in the production of sexualities during migration processes. Beyond the North/South divide, it intends to conduct a non-Eurocentric analysis of trans and queer migrations, while looking at surveillance in its social, institutional, legal and normative dimensions.

To this end, the workshop will revolve around three themes associated with the surveillance of queer and trans migrations: (1) exercise of surveillance; (2) circumvention of surveillance; and (3) effects of surveillance. Please refer to the attached concept note for more information.

The workshop will take place on Friday 26 April 2024, at the French Institute for Anatolian Studies (IFEA) in İstanbul, Türkiye

Important Dates:

  • Deadline for the submission of proposals : 5 December 2023
  • Notification of acceptance: January 2024 
  • Workshop date: 26 April 2024

Submission Guidelines:
Proposals should include an abstract (max. 300 words), the author’s name, affiliation, email address, and a brief biography (max. 250 words). 
Please submit proposals to

Additional information: 

  • There are no registration fees associated with this workshop. 
  • Accommodation and meals will be covered by the organizers. Selected participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from Istanbul. Transportation costs can be covered through limited bursaries that are available upon request.
  • This workshop will be held in English. However, if you feel more at ease presenting in another language, proposals in Arabic, French, or Turkish are also accepted, while planning for English-language slides during the oral presentation.
  • Upon completion of the workshop, selected papers will be published in a collective publication. 

Theme and Focus
Sexualities are increasingly instrumentalized in discourses (media, political but
also in daily life ) to produce boundaries between values of tolerance and oppression
(Arab et al., 2018). Most of the time, this distribution of values is linked to geographical
spaces. To maintain these values, societies and individuals participate in
institutionalized but also unofficial surveillance systems.

In the workshop we propose to organize, surveillance is understood in a broad
sense. It can be approached from the perspective of law, institutions, the scale of public
space through glances, and so on. We want to think of the notion of surveillance as the
object of a total institution (Goffman 1968), without materializing it in a precise
structure (prison, psychiatric hospital, and so on). However, the normative
productions of surveillance and the control they operate do not take the same forms
depending on the context, be it social, geographical or even legal. In the context of
migration, individuals are forced to identify and adapt to the new systems of
surveillance they are subjected to, in order to create a space of maneuver to act from.
In other words, we aim to address surveillance mutations based on the space in which
it takes shape, without departing from how Michel Foucault theorized surveillance
using the panopticon model (Foucault 1975).

To understand these migrations, a number of humanities and social science
studies have produced investigations in which this theme is analyzed through the
prism of gender, sexuality and decolonization. These critical resources are rooted in a
broader field that brings together political science, history, and sociology through the pioneering work of Éric Fassin on sexual democracy (Fassin 2016), Jasbir K. Puar on
homonationalism (Puar 2007), Joseph Massad on gay imperialism (Massad 2007)
and Dennis Altman on the globalization of sexual freedom (Altman 2002).
On the other hand, there are few works exploring the links between migration,
sexuality and surveillance. Those that do exist are most often dealt with from the angle
of tourism (Brennan 2006, Roux 2010), health (Lalou and Piche 2004), language
(Mick 2015), the body (Machikou and Perseil 2008), sex work (Levy and Lieber 2009),
homosexuality (Awondo 2013; Amari 2018; Falquet and Alarassace 2006) and the
country of arrival.

From the point of view of societies of departure, however, we can note the work
of Agathe Menetrier and, more globally, the collective work Queer and Trans African
Mobilities (Caminga and Marnell, 2022), which impels a reflection focused on queer
and trans migration between countries penalizing these identities.
The purpose of this workshop is to examine the role of surveillance in the
production of sexualities during the migration process, without associating these with
the North/South bipartition. The over-mediatization of recent reforms limiting sexual
freedom in certain countries, and their repercussions on the perception of migration
from these territories, have highlighted the importance of thinking beyond the
North/South bipartition. Examples include Russia, which adopted a reform extending
the scope of a law prohibiting the promotion of « non-traditional relationships » in
November 2022, and Uganda, which introduced a law prohibiting same-sex
relationships, their promotion and recognition. Besides, far from limiting ourselves to
societies penalizing same-sex sexual relations, we wish to study how surveillance also
manifests itself in « sexual democracies » (Fassin 2016). During this workshop, we want
to target work concerning worlds and geographical spaces linked or related to the
Suds, the Mediterranean space, North Africa and West Asia.

As previously mentioned, when it comes to surveillance and sexuality, the main
focus is on countries that penalize sexualities outside of the heteronormative
framework. On the other hand, there are some cases that nuance this bipartition of the
world between countries that value these sexualities and others that penalize them.
The aim of this workshop is to work on these nuances in order to deconstruct this
bipartition and, possibly, shed light on surveillance that has so far remained in the

Through an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach, we aim to propose a
non-eurocentric reading of trans and queer migration. Thus, we aim to study
surveillance in its institutional, legal and normative dimensions, as well as in its
everyday aspects. In this sense, our objective is to emphasize the way surveillance
affirms hegemonic practices and identities within trans and queer people.
In this regard, three lines of inquiry emerge: (1) the perception of surveillance;
(2) the circumvention of surveillance; and (3) strategies of legitimization.

  1. The Exercise and Perception of Surveillance
    Considered « exceptional » by surveillance systems, trans and queer migrants are
    particularly exposed to surveillance. They are not considered economic migrants (Gray
    and Baynham 2020), and their privacy is scrutinized in order to obtain the right to
    travel. As a result, their journeys are disproportionately exposed to surveillance. Queer
    migrants who are racialized or come from certain religious communities are
    particularly targeted. In European Union countries, for example, migration policies
    increasingly represent migrants from the South as a « threat » to the security and social
    cohesion of the EU (Aykaç 2008).
    The aim of this panel is to discuss how surveillance is perceived, lived and
    experienced by queer and trans migrants. How does surveillance manifest itself? How
    is it materialized? Through what structures, organizations and legal mechanisms?
    How do migrants describe their exposure to surveillance?
    The purpose is to explore how surveillance is manifested and experienced in
    specific circumstances, such as border controls, police arrests, medical practices and
    academic institutions.
    Similarly, how does the surveillance of queer and trans migrants materialize in
    different geographical spaces? Do legal and juridical contexts give rise to differences
    in surveillance? How are queer and trans migrants considered, controlled and legally
    qualified in each of these contexts? What obstacles or perhaps opportunities do the
    different contexts represent for them?
  1. Circumventing Forms of Surveillance
    Managed by a socio-political system that dispossesses, victimizes, and/or
    vulnerabilizes people, migration systems reinforce the processes of (re)constructing
    vulnerabilities. The risk of violence by both state and non-state entities for those who
    are trans and gender nonconforming is particularly high (Luibhéid and Chávez 2020:
    3). In parallel, the asylum field pushes people to evoke suffering narratives and
    compels them to perform vulnerability and/or queerness to match formulations of the
    suffering refugee image and to prove their deservingness to official actors, namely the
    state or civil society organizations (Smith and Waite 2019, Crawley and Skleparis
    2018; Koçak 2020). However, the focus on surveillance and/or vulnerabilities should not confine them to an image of people without agentivity. These narratives can also be seen as ways of circumventing forms of surveillance, in terms of consciousness, quest,
    reconstruction and struggle for one’s dignity. In this way, vulnerability can be
    mobilized against dispossession and injustice within forms of power (Butler,
    Gambetti, and Sabsay 2016).
    In the light of this reflection, we are interested in forms of circumvention of
    surveillance/vulnerability/structural oppressions: what are the everyday manifestations of resistance (De Certeau 1990; C. Scott 1990; Chatterjee 2006)? In what ways do people cope with structured insecurity, that is, by accessing and/or creating networks, mobilizing different resources? What are the tacit resilience practices for navigating the social spaces of everyday life (cities, streets, queer nightlife, digital spaces)? How are different strategies and/or narratives developed to claim the right to asylum and a legal everyday life? What are the social conditions for circumventing various forms of power and surveillance?
  1. The Effects of Surveillance on Trans and Queer Groups
    Homonationalism and sexual imperialism remain approaches built on an
    analysis of media discourses and controversies. Both draw attention to the
    instrumentalization of the issue of freedom in the (re)composition of systems of racial
    hierarchy, but they haven’t entirely analyzed social practices. The aim of this panel is
    therefore to interrogate the ordinary practices and representations of trans and queer
    freedom, their sources and diversities, rather than the theoretical constructions of
    these freedoms. In other words, this panel proposes to grasp how surveillance
    generates both economic and racial inequalities, which are linked to how one perceives
    the representation of being trans and/or queer.
    The questions that animate this third point invite us to question the
    hierarchization of bodies and nationalities during the migratory process, as well as the
    reinforcement of the racialization of bodies. It also raises the question of whether
    surveillance creates or undermines the dynamics of solidarity between the various
    trans and queer actors involved in the migration process.
    Finally, we have a twofold interest in organizing this workshop in Turkey: the
    aim to deepen academic links between France and Turkey, and the geopolitical
    situation of this country. Located at the crossroads of heterogeneous migratory flows,
    Turkey has welcomed nearly 3.8 million refugees, the largest refugee population in the
    world (UNHCR 2022). This influx has been multiplied by the EU’s migration
    agreements with Turkey, particularly since the uprising in Syria. Within this
    migration, people who have fled their country of origin because of persecution based
    on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity occupy an important place. This
    geographical area therefore represents a very rich field for the analysis of the diversity
    of migratory routes. Moreover, a great deal of research (Shakhsari 2014; Kıvılcım et
    Baklacıoğlu 2015; Kıvılcım 2017; Sarı 2020b; 2020a; Saleh 2020b; 2020c; 2020a;
    Koçak 2020a; 2020b; Aytaçoğlu 2022; 2023) is emerging on these issues and it is
    important to establish contacts with Turkish universities with the aim of apprehending
    these changes together.

Submissions may focus on one or more of the following themes:
 Migrations, Sexualities, South
 Queer studies
 Queer social spaces (hammams, clubs, associations, etc.)
 Urban spaces
 Queer urban nights / everyday life / worldmaking / home-making
 Resistances / agency / micro-practices of resistance / mobilizations
 Experiences / subjectivities / identities
 Inequalities / networks / visibilities / invisibilities

Scientific Committee
Chadia Arab, CNRS, Université d’Angers, Angers, France
Barbara Bompani, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh,
United Kingdom
B. Camminga, ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Germany, African
Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), University of Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg, South Africa
Jules Falquet, Université de Paris 8, France
Jane Freedman, Université de Paris 8, France
Monia Lachheb, Université de la Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia
Nicola Mai, University of Leicester, United Kingdom
John Marnel, African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), University
of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nasima Moujoud, Université Pierre Mendès France, Grenoble, France
Sima Shakhsari, the University of Minnesota, USA
Aslı Zengin, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA

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The French Institute For Anatolian Studies, İstanbul, Türkiye

Organized by: Öykü Aytaçoğlu (PhD Candidate in Sociology), Tachfine Baida (PhD
Candidate in Political Science) Marien Gouyon (PhD in Anthropology)

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