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Negotiating Postcolonial Solidarities: Conflicts around knowledge production on sexual minorities, repression & resistance


Principles and practices of solidarity, linking metropolitan and marginal areas of former empires, increasingly diverge between postcolonial ideals and neo-colonial realities. A liability of queer critiques, even more problematic than futile efforts at censorship of books, is the effective obstruction of research initiatives necessary to obtain the empirical data to effectively build solidarity projects with communities of sexual minorities still at risk from repression and lack of infrastructure for security and health. In this vacuum, celebrity figures, based in former imperial centres such as London, who barely understand the political economies because they are rarely engaged in knowledge production, can undermine locally directed research and activism. Solidarity initiatives for sexual minorities at risk, spanning metropolitan and under-developed margins of former European empires, are increasingly being monitored, assessed, and critiqued. In turn, intelligence around solidarity projects is becoming more politicised extending to questions of research design, collection methods, accuracy, dissemination, confidentiality, and security. This essay explores modes of transnational knowledge production spanning three junctions in the former British Empire: theorizing in my home region of Vancouver with relatively unorganized protocols for queer critique but relaxed libel laws; exploring the limitations of global solidarity projects for sexual minorities that are based in London with UK legacies of nongovernmental organisation ‘neo-colonialism’ and the risk of formidable liabilities from libel laws that can contain debate; and a public beach in Dubai where male guest workers, many of whom are constructing new forms of intimacies and solidarity, continue to be at risk of persecution for both homosexuality and labour organising.

Keywords: sexual minorities, transnational solidarities, research methods, environmental planning, Dubai

a copy of this draft in PDF is available:


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