Queer/Humanitarian Visibility: The Emergence of the Figure of The Suffering Syrian Gay Refugee

Citation:

Saleh, Fadi. 2020. "Queer/Humanitarian Visibility: The Emergence of the Figure of The Suffering Syrian Gay Refugee." Middle East Critique: Special Issue on Queering the Middle East 29 (1): 47-67. 

Author: Fadi Saleh

Abstract:

Prior to the Syrian uprisings in 2011, Syrian queer and trans* populations were rather unknown and irrelevant to global LGBT politics, Western media, and humanitarian efforts. This changed considerably after the uprisings as representations steadily increased and proliferated on social media and in journalistic accounts. This article traces this shift and argues that queer and trans* Syrians became visible primarily through a queer/humanitarian media-visibility paradigm and the construction, consolidation, and circulation of the figure of the suffering Syrian gay refugee. Drawing on analyses of what I consider pivotal events and media representations as well as journalistic writings, this article maps out the ways in which the figure of the suffering Syrian gay refugee and the associations it foregrounds emerged, circulated, and became normalized after the uprisings and years into the Syrian conflict. Furthermore, based on ethnographic fieldwork that I conducted with Syrian LGBT refugees in Istanbul during 2014 – 15, this article challenges the suitability of this figure as a knowledge production framework and suggests new research trajectories to approach, understand, and write Syrian queer and trans* histories beyond the queer/humanitarian visibility paradigm and the figure of the suffering Syrian gay refugee.

Keywords: gay, humanitarian visibility, media, queer, refugee, Syria, violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Conflict, Media, LGBTQ, Sexuality, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Syria

Year: 2020

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