Queering in the midst of chaos

Monday, January 1, 2021 | 12am EST

What are some of the commonalities shared by people living within various present-day diasporas? How do diaspora community members interpret the social, spiritual and political transformations stemming from their birth places and incorporate them into the realm of their new terrains? What do the future of diasporic communities look like amidst the global crisis that has led to even more displacement and loss? Consisting of a performance and a presentation, this program will examine some of the intricacies of diasporic realities by encompassing a poetic rendition of a queer Muslim funeral and a deep dive into the rise of Hindutva politics.

The program will be followed by a Q&A with the presenters moderated by Erum Khan.

Khuda Bowad Yarat/When I Am No Longer Here: Queer Muslim Burials In Exile

Khuda Bowad Yarat/When I Am No Longer Here is a video recreation and reconciliation with queer mortality. Dr. Ahmad Qais Munhazim and Wazina Zondon propose to (re)create the elements of a (Muslim) funeral, including: the customary burial shrouds with the secrets and untold truths that they wish to make visible and say aloud now in their living; their suitcases for burial and return of items they might have borrowed from loved ones.

“Dedicated to those of us, queer, displaced, marginalized, third culture, hiding, surviving, striving and deeply desiring the traditions and rituals that give us peace of heart, but knowing they aren’t always guaranteed to us or reflect us in our true forms. May engaging offer relief of y/our exhaustions.”

Unsettling Diasporic Hindutva Politics in North America

Over the last few years, there has been a significant rise in right-wing Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) organizing in Canada and the U.S. The presentation will delve into the events that have rocked the years underneath the Trump Presidency (with a focus on 2020) across caste, religion, gender, queerness and national identities to critically reflect on the growth and hindrance of South Asian organizing in North America. The troubling rise of Hindutva forces needs to be analyzed by paying attention to the critical intersections of brahmanical caste supremacy, militarism, queer and trans pinkwashing, Islamophobia, and heteropatriarchy both in the diaspora and the homeland. The presentation will draw upon specific sites of analysis, arguing for the imminent need to disrupt and resist Hindutva forces worldwide, especially in light of the current public health crises we are all ensnared within.

Queering and Cripping Survival: Mental Health Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Shayda Kafai explores the ebbs and flows of navigating mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. In moments of intensity, slowness, and panic-spinning, this hybrid text of poetry, theory, and personal narrative performs Mad, disabled, queer of color mental health survival during a pandemic that has left so many of us feeling unearthed and isolated. How can we queer and crip survival? How can we imagine and begin to create decolonized futures where we survive? Shayda will use Disability Justice, queer, and crip theory politics to address these questions.

Queering in the Midst of Chaos: Mental Health Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bri Sérráno provides their narrative of simultaneously experiencing affirmation and anxiety regarding their own gender identity and expression. The pandemic has shifted how they are read and exist in the world as a trans masculine person being read more as a “man” with an increased fear of being outed in public. They share explicit times of reflection on the pandemic, euphoria, and what regrounds their existence.



Jennette Ramirez

is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California. Their research interests collide at the intersection of queer of color critique, performance studies, counternarratives, queer theory, and monster theory.

Shayda Kafai

(she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. As a queer, disabled, Mad, femme of color, she commits to reclaiming our bodyminds from intersecting systems of oppression. To support this work as an educator-scholar, Shayda applies Disability Justice and collective care practices in the spaces she cultivates. She lives in Pomona, California with her wife, Amy.

Bri Sérráno

is a non-binary trans masc Latinx scholar who specializes in experiences of transgender faculty, staff, and students in higher education. Bri oversees an LGBT Center in the California State University system, serves as an Adjunct Faculty in Ethnic and Women’s Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Colorado State University Higher Education Leadership Program. Bri experiences chronic major depression and has generalized anxiety disorder that informs their experiences of living as a queer and trans disabled scholar.

Max (formerly Sarah) Ferguson

has been a practicing artist since 1996 and received his BFA from the University of Regina in 2001. He graduated with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2017 and is currently pursuing his PhD in Art and Women’s and Gender Studies at York University. His artistic explorations involve madness, neurodivergent and trans-queer sexualities, activism, the body, surrealism, and psychoanalysis. Max’s work involves computer-based works and installation, paintstick, graphite, and digital collage. Currently, his work revolves around hybridized notions of photography, sculpture, sound, installation and performance, involving the psyche, the body, activism, queer theory, and mental health.

min Canada