“Queer Desi Flânerie: My Manchester, England, 2005 and 2015”
Association of Asian American Studies Annual Conference, 2015
“Contemporary Art, Embodied Mediations, and Queer Transnational Flåneurie” panel
Natasha Bissonauth, Chair
This paper was based on a dissertation paper that has since been revised as a chapter in the book project, Productive Failure: Writing Transnational South Asian Art Histories.
“This paper interweaves three modes of exploring the city of Manchester in England, where I lived from 2005 to 2008. First, I describe my urban walks in commercialized areas such as Canal Street, the epicenter of the Gay Village, and Curry Mile, so named for its many South Asian restaurants and shops. Secondly, I toggle between descriptions of personal experience and academic prose in the spirit of the scholarship of both self-identified Chicana-lesbian feminist Gloria Anzaldú and queer feminist art historian Amelia Jones. More specifically, I draw on queer and women’s studies scholar Dianne Chisholm’s suggestion that queer urban explorers are perhaps the contemporary legacy of Walter Benjamin’s flâneur and French philosopher Michel de Certeau’s “pedestrian speech acts.” I also consider 19th-century Viennese art historian Alois Rïegl’s theories of haptic images, as well as the applications of the latter of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari and film studies scholar Laura Marks to theorize smooth space and haptic visuality. Thirdly, drawing on art historian Aby Warburg’s and Benjamin’s methods, I bring together a constellation of images from Manchester (personal and from the Internet) and from Miami, Florida (where I currently live) that I hope will add another dimension to understanding my Manchester.”