Abundance: Queer Worldings in Anthropology

Workshop by the Working Group “Gender & Sexualities | Queer Anthropology” (German Anthropological Association) in cooperation with the Research Area “Gender, Body, Sexuality” (Freie Universität Berlin)

Organizers: Dr. Omar Kasmani (FU Berlin, SFB Affective Societies), Prof. Dr. Claudia Liebelt and Max Schnepf (FU Berlin, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology)


8 March (Schwules Museum Berlin) – public

6.008.00 pm: Keynote + Discussion

Lecture by Prof. Anjali Arondekar (UC Santa Cruz): “Intimations of Dissent: Sexuality’s History

Suturing histories of sexuality to histories of dissent, this talk rearranges the grammar of our ethical engagements with the past and present. At stake here are the historical vernaculars -the data- that found the evidentiary regimes of rights and representation for subaltern queer/trans subjects. What I offer here are archives of andolan/protest, meditations that move between the heady inspirations of protest and the stultifying violence of state practices. Andolan is after all a movement in Hindustani music, an alankar (combination/ornamentation of notes) that oscillates between one fixed note and its counterpart, touching, suffusing, all that lies in between. Let us imagine such an historical andolan together.

Anjali Arondekar is Professor of Feminist Studies, and Founding CoDirector, Center for South Asian Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research engages the poetics and politics of sexuality, caste, and historiography, with a focus on Indian Ocean Studies and South Asia. She is the author of For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India (Duke University Press, 2009, Orient Blackswan, India, 2010), winner of the Alan Bray Memorial Book Award for best book in lesbian, gay, or queer studies in literature and cultural studies, Modern Language Association (MLA), 2010. She is coeditor (with Geeta Patel) of “Area Impossible: The Geopolitics of Queer Studies,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2016). Her second book, Abundance: Sexuality’s History (Duke University Press, 2023), grows out of her interest in the archival figurations of sexuality and caste in British and Portuguese colonial India.


9 March (Freie Universität Berlin) – non-public


Yener Bayramoğlu (Manchester Metropolitan University): Queer Diasporic Media Practices

Rori Dior: Sex, work and stuff: An objectbased approach to telling sex workers’ stories

Wikke Jansen (Universität Heidelberg): The Past for the Future: Queer HeritageMaking Strategies in Indonesia

Natalie Klyk (Europa Universität Viadrina): A view of the German BDSMScene beyond Stigma Management & Play



Ali Venir (University of Utrecht): Queer mutualism as social reproduction and care in its ambiguity [work in progress]

Max Schnepf (Freie Universität Berlin): Sorglos: Care and its Queer Opposites in Biomedical HIV-Prevention

Christopher Zraunig (Princeton University): Queer Aging: Possibilities and Constraints of Diversity Work in Geriatric Institutions



María Soledad Cutuli (Universidad Complutense de Madrid / Universidad de Buenos Aires): From precariousness to abundance? Reflections on the proliferation of cooperatives for trans women in Argentina

Catherine Whittaker (GoetheUniversität Frankfurt): Infinite Feminine Power: Women as Shaman’s Apprentices and Violence Survivors in High-land Mexico

Valentini Sampethai (Panteion University Athens): Optimistas luchadoras? Struggle and survival in sex workers’ trajectories

Akanksha Awal (St John’s College, Oxford): Rethinking beauty as a site of “abundance” in Ghaziabad, India


Call for Papers (pdf)

As forays into the archive or the field, both ethnographers and historians of sexuality continue to seek evidence for queer existence. Whether as “recuperative hermeneutics” (Arondekar 2009) in service of the past or as “ethnocartographies” (Weston 1993) of the contemporary non-West, such expeditions operate on the idea that queer life is a secret, whose proof is not readily available – or that it takes some digging to uncover and recover alterities of gender and sexuality. The figure of an impoverished present is also at work in much of queer utopian thinking which turns to the future for repair and redemption. In fact, loss remains paramount in current Euro-American thinking on sexuality, a point that Anjali Arondekar raises in her forthcoming book: forms and figurations of failure, languages of lack and paucity, even utopia turn sticky devices that return us, if not also keep us attached to, sites, scenes and stories of negativity. This workshop invites a thinking against such “narrative economies of loss” (Arondekar 2023, forthcoming) and towards an epistemological privileging of abundance.

Seeking, discovering, and locating queerness in other places and times can be purposefully mobilized into a politics of rights and representation. Yet, this recuperative logic also invites a critical questioning of extractive modes of knowledge production so long as we operate in post- and still colonial worlds shaped by power inequalities. Abundance: Queer Worldings in Anthropology foregrounds the dialectics of loss and repair, restraint and excess, paucity and abundance. It queries the ambivalent attachments we form to notions of ethnographic evidence and historical proof as we study gender and sexuality in various geographies.

We encourage participants to imagine what kind of queer worldings emerge, transform or crumble, when research projects are approached from the vantage point of abundance. In epistemological terms, what do abundance’s adjacent notions like wealth, fullness, affluence, opulence, richness, prosperity, thriving, growth, multiplicity, plurality bring to our projects? Set against ideas of scarcity, abandonment, and lack, how can abundance help to move projects towards a more capacious notion of queer that embraces embodied, sensorial and aesthetic worldings? How might an appreciation of abundance contribute to critical efforts to decolonize knowledge production? Furthermore, how can we incorporate abundance in methodological terms, for instance, through multimodal storytelling, collaborative design, fragmented forms, and engaged practices of research? Also, if we conceptualize abundance in relation to ‘mess’ (Manalansan 2018), how might such coupling trouble scientific attachments to order and coherence? Moreover, does such embrace of incommensurability through abundance allow for a comfort with what Naisargi Dave has termed as the “willingness to acknowledge some things as unknowable” (Dave 2011)? Last but not least, in what ways does the figure of abundance open up distinct grammars for intersectional and transdisciplinary work?

We invite contributions from anthropology and related disciplines that engage with gender, sexuality and queerness in various geographic settings and historical periods. Contributions can be conceptual or empirical, comprise multiple formats or discuss methodological and ethical aspects of research. To participate in the workshop, you can register as either speaker or attendee. Please indicate in which capacity you would like to join.

– Speaker: Please submit an abstract of your contribution (max. 300 words) and a short bio note (max. 150 words).
– Attendee: Please submit a short bio note, outlining your research interest and motivation to participate in the workshop (max. 300 words).

We have limited funds to provide subsidies for train travel and accommodation. Please indicate in your application if you would like to be considered for a subsidy. We will prioritize speakers and early-career scholars lacking support from their home institutions.

Deadline: February 5, 2023
Mail to: queeranthro.dgska@gmail.com


Arondekar, Anjali (2009): For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Arondekar, Anjalli (2023, forthcoming): Abundance: Sexuality’s History. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Dave, Naisargi N. (2011): Abundance and Loss: Queer Intimacies in South Asia. Feminist Studies 37(1): 14-27. doi: 10.1353/fem.2011.0012

Manalansan, Martin F. (2018): Messy Mismeasures: Exploring the Wilderness of Queer Migrant Lives. South Atlantic Quarterly 117(3): 491–506. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-6942105

Weston, Kath (1993): Lesbian/Gay Studies in the House of Anthropology. Annual Review of Anthropology 22: 339-367. doi: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.22.100193.002011

Cite this blog post
mxschnepf (2023, February 16). Abundance: Queer Worldings in Anthropology. AnthroDesires. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/b7v8

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