This essay investigates Buddhist-Muslim intimacies and coexistence in Thailand in order to complicate recent discussions of the relation of religion to gender and sexual freedoms. It is concerned with contributing a new, Southeast Asian perspective to a prominent strain of contemporary criticism that traces the anti-Islamic bent of European and US public discourses to biases inherent in liberal thought. Authors such as Saba Mahmood, Jasbir Puar, and Judith Butler have tracked how, under the assumption of Islam’s sexual illiberalism, the figure of “the Muslim” has become liberalism’s paradigmatic other. Although it builds on these critiques, the essay asks how these logics play out quite differently in a majority Buddhist society and in a modernity that is not understood only as secular. The essay investigates how contemporary globally circulating Thai films furnish a radically different approach to multiethnic coexistence, emancipatory sexual politics, the temporalities of modernity, and the domain of the law that is so closely connected to sexual and religious freedoms. The essay thereby analyzes the problem of liberalism in the context of multiply constituted notions of freedom, belonging, and coexistence beyond European and North American contexts. Like Butler, the author relies on a claim about temporality but argues that the plural temporalities of Southeast Asian modernities allow for different relations between minority and majority populations and between notions of gender equality or sexual freedom and religious belonging.
The Story of Untold Displacements: Buddhist-Muslim Intimacies and Visions of Ethnic Coexistence in a Thai Queer-Feminist Filmic Archive
Arnika Fuhrmann; The Story of Untold Displacements: Buddhist-Muslim Intimacies and Visions of Ethnic Coexistence in a Thai Queer-Feminist Filmic Archive. Camera Obscura 1 September 2019; 34 (2): 163–193. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-7584952
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