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The YouTube livestream of this panel is available above as an edited form of the original broadcast from Thursday the 29th of April 2021.

Queer Temporalities

Queerness is untimely, ephemeral and 'not yet here' (Muñoz), as much out of sync as it is ahead of its time. As both an identity bound to past realities and a practice driven by the promise of futurity, queerness demands alternative modes of understanding History and the ways that we make and inhabit it. In this panel, we explore the political potential of thinking queerly about time: how queer temporalities flow back and forth, interrupting and intersecting, as well as how they come to disturb, disrupt and decolonise sequential notions of past and future, now and then.


Dr Geoffrey Maguire

Modern and Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge


Dr Natasha Tanna

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University College London

Tentacular Temporalities in the Caribbean: Queerness and Coloniality in Rita Indiana’s La mucama de Omicunlé

Through a reading of the complex temporalities of Dominican writer and musician Rita Indiana’s 2015 novel La mucama de Omicunlé (published in English translation this year as Tentacle), this paper explores how Anglophone theorisations of queer temporalities sit in a Caribbean context, which, with its cultural syncretism and baroque literary aesthetic, was, in many ways, “queer” avant la lettre. Michael Hames-García describes the unmarked whiteness of much queer theory (2011), critiquing the dominant critical chronology of queer studies that perceives ‘theorists of colour [as] simultaneously marginal and new; white theorists provide insights into sexuality, and then theorists of colour (and writings by working-class queers) show how sexuality varies in other contexts’ (2011: 28–29). In this paper I challenge this chronology and develop the notion of ‘tentacular time’ in the Caribbean to read the queer elements of the novel as being in constant connection with issues of coloniality. The sea anemone that is central to the novel’s plot (as it permits one of the protagonists to transition to being a man and to travel in time to prevent ecological disaster) offers a figure through which we might think about conceptualisations of time that situate queerness in dialogue with the island’s colonial past and neocolonial present.

Juliana Demartini-Brito

Centre for Gender Studies, University of Cambridge

Staging Utopia: Hélio Oiticica’s experimental temporalities in exile

This paper offers a Brazilian optic on queer temporal investigations through the 1969 experimental installation Éden, or Eden, by Tropicalist artist, performer, and writer Hélio Oiticica. The installation was exhibited during the artist’s self-exile in England at the London Whitechapel Gallery. Taking into consideration José Esteban Muñoz’s (2009, 97) provocation “How does one stage utopia?” this text explores how the spatiality of utopia takes resonance with the incommensurability of queer work in Brazil during its 1964 to 1985 military dictatorship. The regime’s forestalling of plural visions of the future was intimately connected with the institutionalization of homophobia. Through Eden, I offer a vision of Brazilian queer works beyond the suppression of its propagation and enactment, as they are often portrayed, arguing that the irreproducibility of queerness can also be deployed as a site of pleasurable potential and reproducible of new attachments. To achieve this, I focus on how there might exist queer utopian spaces in contexts beyond one’s location. The paper also considers what this might tell us about the temporal and spatial particularity of queer Brazilian art during the authoritarian period and its resonances with contemporary Brazil.

Professor Sarah Franklin

Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge

Queer DNA

Throughout its short life as the direct object of modern scientific analysis, the temporality of DNA has consistently proven non-compliant and elusive. Time and time again, genetic temporalities have resisted the constraints of prevailing orthodoxies and dogmatisms – turning them on their heads. The twists and turns of DNA’s tight helical coil are nothing if not reliably heretical: non-linear, un-bordered, rich in junk and constantly mutating, their palindromic repeats performing queer duplications. Is there a queerer genealogy than that of any biogenetic relation? Answering this question has many implications but in this short talk we will look at only one which is the idea of a biological relative. As we shall see, in only a few examples, DNA has always been a wayward signifier: a bellwether of deviation-as-the-rule, and a queer time-keeper, that has suprising lessons for us all.

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lgbtQ+@​cam is an initiative launched in 2018 to promote interdisciplinary research, outreach and network building related to queer, trans and sexuality studies at the University of Cambridge.

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