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In Unruly Visions Gayatri Gopinath brings queer studies to bear on investigations of diaspora and visuality, tracing the interrelation of affect, archive, region and aesthetics through an examination of a wide range of contemporary queer visual culture. Spanning film, fine art, poetry and photography, these cultural forms—which Gopinath conceptualizes as aesthetic practices of queer diaspora—reveal the intimacies of seemingly disparate histories of (post)colonial dwelling and displacement and are a product of diasporic trajectories.
Countering standard formulations of diaspora that inevitably foreground the nation-state, as well as familiar formulations of queerness that ignore regional gender and sexual formations, Gopinath stages unexpected encounters between works by South Asian, Middle Eastern, African, Australian and Latinx artists such as Sheba Chhachhi, Allan deSouza, Tracey Moffat and Akram Zaatari. Unruly Visions shows how their art functions as regional queer archives that express alternative understandings of time, space, and relationality.
The queer optics produced by these visual practices create South-to-South, region-to-region and diaspora-to-region cartographies that profoundly challenge disciplinary and area studies rubrics. Gopinath thereby provides new critical perspectives on settler colonialism, empire, military occupation, racialization and diasporic dislocation as they indelibly mark both bodies and landscapes.
“A tremendous advance over the current scholarship analyzing visuality, affect, and South-to-South queer diasporic artistic expression, Unruly Visions charts new cartographies of diasporic connections that provide a fresh orientation to our understanding of settler colonialism, empire, and racialization. Gayatri Gopinath’s book is a singular achievement that will have a profound impact within queer studies, indigenous and diaspora studies, visual studies, and aesthetics.”
—Nayan Shah, author of Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality, and the Law in the North American West
“A wonderfully detailed examination of queer diasporic films and visual art projects, this book explores how critical regionalism can interrupt conventional conceptions of local/global and metropolis/diaspora distinctions. Gayatri Gopinath's concept of a 'queer cartographic imaginary' resists neat categories and generalizations, offering an eclectic range of case studies—queer diaspora from Kerala and the Middle East, Latinx and U.S. cultures of immigration, and indigeneity.”
—Ann Cvetkovich, author of Depression: A Public Feeling
GAYATRI GOPINATH is Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She works at the intersections of transnational feminist and queer studies, postcolonial studies and diaspora studies.
In 1970s Karachi, where violence and political and social uncertainty are on the rise, a talented painter, Tahira, tries to hold her life together as it shatters around her. Her marriage is quickly revealed to be a trap from which there appears no escape. Accustomed to the company of her brother Waseem and friends, Andaleep and Safdar, who are activists, writers and thinkers, Tahira struggles to adapt to her new world of stifling conformity and to fight for her identity as a woman and an artist.
Tragedy strikes when her brother and friends are caught up in the cynically repressive regime. Faced with loss and injustice, she embarks upon a series of paintings entitled ‘The Empty Room’, filling the blank canvases with vivid colour and light.
Elegant, poetic, and powerful, The Empty Room is an important addition to contemporary Pakistani literature, a moving portrait of life in Karachi at a pivotal moment in the nation’s history, and a powerful meditation on art and the dilemmas faced by women who must find their own creative path in hostile conditions.
"‘Regret is only one kind of torment in a world generous with pain’, writes Sadia Abbas. In her debut novel, regret and pain appear in light, luminous hues as the story of a new nation, struggling to retain its democratic resolve, is enmeshed with the story of a rocky marriage. The courage, wit and capacity for love displayed by the characters are sure to linger long after the last chapter has been read."
— Annie Zaidi, author of Gulab and Love Stories #1-14
"A gripping and wonderfully observed account of domestic life and its many perils in Pakistan's early decades. The portrait of a marriage set in the minefield of an extended family, this novel offers us an extraordinarily nuanced view of a woman's life."
— Faisal Devji, author of The Impossible Indian: Gandhi and The Temptation of Violence
"The personal and the political come together in this tale of a nation and a young, newly-married woman, as they push against horizons, stretch boundaries and make painful self-discoveries."
— Rakhshanda Jalil, writer and translator
Sadia Abbas grew up in Pakistan and Singapore. She received her PhD in English literature from Brown University, and she teaches in the English Department at Rutgers University-Newark. Sadia is Adjunct Professor at the Stavros Niarchos Center for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University. She loves long walks, the Mediterranean and, indiscriminately, all sorts of films.
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