19 May 2017 from 12:45 to 13:45

Promotion Gianmaria Colpani on queer theory

© iStockphoto.com/valentinrussanov
© iStockphoto.com/valentinrussanov

In this dissertation, Gianmaria Colpani MA (Gender Studies) explores contemporary transformations of both progressive sexual politics and queer theory from a politico-philosophical perspective. On the one hand, Colpani analyzes how LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) politics have been recently articulated to the politico-economic project of neoliberalism and to new forms of racism, nationalism, and imperialism. Thus, the dissertation is situated within contemporary queer debates on “homonormativity” (Duggan 2003), “homonationalism” (Puar 2007), and “sexual imperialism” (Massad 2007). On the other hand, his focus is on how queer theory has responded to these political transformations.

Colpani reads both processes—the transformations of contemporary sexual politics and the transformations of the queer theoretical field—through the theory of hegemony that Stuart Hall appropriated from Italian communist thinker Antonio Gramsci and reactivated in Britain in the 1980s, in the context of Thatcherism (see Hall 1986; 1988). The central goal of the dissertation is to explore the ways in which the conceptual apparatus developed by Hall in that context can help us better understand today both the transformations of LGBTQ politics and the transformations of the queer theoretical field.

Gianmaria Colpani MA
Gianmaria Colpani MA

In the first chapter, Colpani focuses on Hall’s work on politico-philosophical interventions: his reading of Gramsci, his theory of politics and ideology, his analyses of Thatcherism, and his critical dialogues with key contemporary interlocutors, especially Louis Althusser and Ernesto Laclau. The focus is particularly on Hall’s effort to open up theoretical and political languages to the emergence of identity politics (of race, gender, and sexuality) while articulating the latter to a broader socialist project. Hence, in the next two chapters, Colpani turns to contemporary queer debates. In the second chapter, he explores Lisa Duggan’s work on homonormativity: a gay politics ideologically aligned with the politico-economic project of neoliberalism. While the first part of this chapter is devoted to Duggan’s analysis, the rest of it reconstructs the transformations of queer theory in the face of this shift of the politico-ideological terrain. Here, Colpani situates both a “Marxist renaissance” in queer theory (see Floyd 2009) and the emergence of queer of color critique (see Ferguson 2004). Finally, in the third chapter, he turns to Jasbir K. Puar’s critique of homonationalism and Joseph A. Massad’s critique of sexual imperialism. Colpani constructs their respective analyses as instances of queer diasporic critique (see Gopinath 2005). The focus on the emergence of queer of color and queer diasporic critique shows that the terrain of identity politics, broadly understood, cannot be easily abandoned in times of homonormativity, homonationalism, and sexual imperialism. Instead, Colpani argues that an intersectional practice of identity politics is central to resist the multiple shifts rightward in LGBTQ politics.

Each chapter ends with a political vignette that supplements these theoretical debates. In the conclusion, he draws on his analyses and on such vignettes in order to profile what Colpani terms, following Hall once again, a “queer Marxism without guarantees”: a theoretical and political practice that finds in the intersecting field of contemporary identity politics a key terrain of recomposition and critique.  

Start date and time
19 May 2017 12:45
End date and time
19 May 2017 13:45
PhD candidate
Gianmaria Colpani MA
Queer Hegemonies. Politics and Ideology in Contemporary Queer Debates
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof Sandra PonzanesiProf Rosemarie Buikema
Dr Lorenzo Bernini