Performing Academy: Feedback and Diffusion Strategies for Queer Scholactivists in France

Authored by: Rachele Borghi , Marie Hélène , Sam Bourcier , Cha Prieur

The Routledge Research Companion to Geographies of Sex and Sexualities

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472455482
eBook ISBN: 9781315613000
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043331

10.4324/9781315613000.ch19

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Abstract

About 15 years ago, a couple of self-identified queer scholars/activists got into French academia to queer it: they wanted to be there, out as queer subjects, producing queer knowledges and queering university. It was all about épistemopolitique (Bourcier, 2001, 2005), as members of the Zoo Collective 1 1

Founded in 1996, the Zoo was the first French queer collective; it started with a queer seminar held at the Philosophy Department at the Sorbonne, and at the independent Gay and Lesbian Centre (Bourcier, 1998).

would put it. Queering the (straight) university meant countering the existing hierarchical knowledge formations and the politics of savoir/pouvoir, aligned with French universalism and republicanism, which since the eighteenth century have promoted ‘equality’ as an abstract, exclusive and exceptionalist ideal. French universalism is a self-denying particularism centred on the supposedly unmarked and ‘universal subject’, which too often translates into hetero, white and male. Within the realm of French republicanism, the only acceptable modalities of citizenship are assimilation and integration. Any (religious, cultural, sexual, racial, class or other) differences must dissolve into the republican ideal of ‘neutral universality’; any insistence on group or individual particularity, including recognition of diverse forms of oppression or differences politics are labelled as communautaire and framed as a potential threat to the ‘national unity’ within a republican une et indivisible (First Amendment of the 5th French Constitution, 1958). These ideals permeate French academia as well.

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