Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

5-2014

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Women's and Gender Studies

Committee Chair

Taylor, Malissa A.

Committee Member

Theriot, Nancy

Committee Member

Fosl, Catherine

Subject

Gays--Middle East; Homophobia--Middle East

Abstract

In the past several years, there has been an abundance of U.S. news stories outlining the widespread oppression of queer people in the Middle East. At the same time, some international human rights organizations have focused all attention on LGBT asylum seekers, implying that the only course of action for queer people in the Middle East is to flee. However, contemporary historical writers on same-sex sexuality demonstrate that the history of same-sex desire and behavior in the Middle East is incredibly nuanced and has changed greatly over time. Additionally, LGBT activists in the Middle East work from within their communities to create changes that will positively affect queer people. While historical scholars and activists outside the academy often have very different projects and understandings of same-sex sexuality, both projects are connected and influence one another. In this thesis, I compare the primary activist projects of historical scholars of same-sex sexuality and LGBT activists in that region. I show that both historians and activists deal with questions of whether there is a universal or transhistorical queer subject and how past people and past sexualities should be understood and used in the present.

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