Abstract/pitch deadline: June 30, 2021
Article/submission deadline: November 30, 2021
(Re)Imagining Queer Utopias: Voices from South Asia (tentative title)
The diverse queer movements in South Asia continue to fight for justice and visibility and are carving out their own spaces and identities. From decriminalization to legal gender recognition to same-sex relationships, these collective struggles have achieved some commendable milestones in recent years, albeit with various limitations and new sets of concerns to think about. They have also faced some tragic and severe backlashes in many parts of the region. The movements have taken an intersectional approach to include other marginalised communities and thus hit upon a broader set of socio-political issues such as migration, class, disability, religion, indigeneity, caste, and others. Added to these circumstances is South Asia’s unique and diverse historical, social, and political positioning in a globalized world, making South Asia’s queer movements a melting pot of radical ideas and practices for new worlds.
Needless to say, that notion of a new world is as diverse as the movement itself. But what are the shapes of that new reality? What do these worlds, imagined through queer perspectives, look like? How will queer worlds disrupt the norms and systems that shackle today’s marginalised communities? Will we simply move from one norm to another? Can we even dream of a brave new South Asia or many brave new South Asias? Or maybe those worlds are already in the making?
2020 has been a difficult year of many losses. It has also been a year in which people have shown support in small and big ways, tried to imagine possibilities, and planted seeds of hope during times of immense hopelessness and uncertainty. In many ways, this past one year has been rather transformative, as we found ourselves amidst losses, uncertainty, anger, grief, hope, and possibilities. Thinking of queerness at this particular moment, therefore, has significant relevance for us to reflect upon and figure out what kind of world we are stepping into and ultimately want. This is what we intend to do through this special issue of Shuddhashar.
This proposed e-book, informed by the lived realities and long-nurtured dreams of South Asian queer people, intends to explore those brave new worlds, which we are referring to as ‘queer utopias’. The book aims to bring together a variety of inspiring ideas, unique perspectives, distinct challenges, and celebrate the diverse queerness that persists across South Asia. The hope is that the e-book will be able to present a grounded-yet-imaginative picture of queer lives from the region and could be used as a resource for activists, academics, community organizers, policymakers, donors, and anyone else who wants to envision other realities for queer communities.
Published by Shuddhashar, a reputed Bangladeshi-Norwegian publishing house, the e-book will be edited by a team of South Asian queer activists and/or academics under the guidance of an esteemed group of advisors from different parts of the region.
Utopia, like queerness, is often thought of in one particular way. When we say “utopia”, we are drawing on the inspiration of Rokeya Shakhawat Hossain, who wrote one of the earliest modern feminist utopias in “Sultana’s Dream” (1905) – a radical reimagining of patriarchy and gender. South Asia has a history of imagining and embodying different worlds and we want to build on that legacy. Contrary to the popular perception of utopia as an unattainable perfect world, we understand that utopia is about possibility and aspiration. Utopias emerge from a recognition that society is deeply flawed and then using that energy to think of alternatives that come out of critically engaging with our current circumstances. In other words, “utopia” is an active word, a lived process of thinking about and creating innovative solutions to real-world problems, whether they are on a large-scale social level or a small-scale individual level. Utopia is about cultivating collective hope in moments of indeterminate and uncertain futures.
So when we say queer utopia, we are centering hope, aspirations for a world without domination, and challenging a world that is built on normative and exclusive ideals about identity. We are looking for pieces that dare to hope. If you could imagine a better world, what would that mean for you? And, importantly, how would you engage with the present to get to that world? How would you centre ‘queerness’ in that new utopian world? In addition to this, how do aspects like faith and religion, class, disability, nationality, and other factors affect the way these queer utopias take shape?
And we leave you with this reminder: In a world that sustains itself on oppressing the vulnerable, there is nothing more radical than being actively joyful and hopeful. Share those joys with us.
Your submissions can focus on any or more of the following topics. And of course, these are suggestions only and we encourage any submissions beyond these topics but connected to the overall theme of the book.
– What does queer utopia mean for South Asian queer individuals and communities?
– How have art, culture, or social media contributed to the imagining of queer utopias?
– What is the role of religion and spirituality in queer utopia, including region-specific concerns like caste, communalism, religious extremism, and historical conflicts?
– How has the history and legacy of colonialism impacted the ways in which queer utopian transformation and liberation take place? And what myths still surround these histories?
– How do neoliberalism and capitalist structures shape and limit efforts to organize for queer utopias?
– What is the impact of ableism on how we envision this queer utopia, especially in a part of the world where physical and mental disabilities continue to be misunderstood and structurally ignored?
– How are queer utopias evolving or persisting amidst regional socio-political upheavals?
– How does access to and distribution of resources affect queer utopias?
– What are the urban and rural imaginings of queer utopias?
– How can we challenge existing norms and conceptions about the ways in which queer folks envision their utopias?
We welcome critical essays, personal reflections, fiction, poetry, art, and photography that touch on the theme either broadly or specifically.
While the e-book is targeted at a wider audience from all spheres of life, readers from the queer community with a South Asian background will find it especially relatable since the e-book aims to provide a contextual and nuanced critical analysis of the regional movements. Readers from academia, civil society, think tanks, international organizations, and multilateral institutions, etc. may also find the e-book useful.
Submission process & guidelines
– Please submit a one-page (200 words max) pitch or abstract for your proposed submission by June 30, 2021. Text can be descriptions of the work and in the case of art, photography or poetry, it can be conceptual and/or with examples.
– Please include a brief description about yourself or your organization in the one-pager. You will have the option to publish anonymously in the final product if you prefer.
– LGBTIQA+ organizations and collectives are also welcome to make submissions.
– The editorial team will assess on a rolling basis. If your pitch/abstract is successful, you will be informed by July 31, 2021.
– The first draft is expected by October 31, 2021, and the final submission deadline is November 30, 2021.
– The word limit for written articles is 2000 – 3000 (two to three thousand words). For all other formats of submission, the limit will be discussed on an individual basis.
– Please email your pitch/submission in .doc, .docx, .rtf, .pdf, and .jpeg formats only.
– Since this is not an academic journal, we do not ask for a specific style guide and also, do not require rigorous referencing. If needed, you can submit a compilation of the references at the end of the article.
– We will only accept submissions that are original and have not been published anywhere before. However, articles/artworks that are scheduled to be published in the near future are eligible.
– The primary language of the e-book will be English. Writers are welcome to include multilingual submissions. When working in a language other than English, the writer is responsible for securing their own translators, if needed, for their English version.
After publication, the authors will receive a small token of appreciation for their submission.
Our plan after publishing the e-book is to publish as a hardcopy book. For e-book publication, we will enter an agreement with all contributing writers. Both e-book and hard book (when it is published) will be sold. The profit made from sales will be used to support the next e-books’ development. Publishing with Shuddhashar, therefore, requires a longer-term commitment of giving exclusive rights to Shuddhashar unless special permission is given in writing and agreed upon by authors, editors, and publisher. Assuming permission to republish has been given, the author is required to acknowledge that the original publication was with Shuddhashar.
Please do not hesitate to write to us with your questions and thoughts, if any of this is unclear to you!
Contact for submissions and queries
Shakhawat Hossain Rajeeb
** The word ‘queer’ is used here as an umbrella term to denote all persons with non-normative gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, and sex characteristics.