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Guest Talk Omar Kasmani

In Suhbet: Lovers and Queer Companions


20 November 2023, 18:15
Room L 155
Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Oettingenstraße 67
80538 München

Dr. Omar Kasmani (Freie Universität Berlin):

In Suhbet: Lovers and Queer Companions

This talk ruminates on the Sufi notion of companionship (suhbet) as a model for queer thinking and worlding. It both derives and departs from the recently published monograph Queer Companions: Religion, Public Intimacy, and Saintly Affects in Pakistan (Duke UP, 2022). Set in Sehwan, Pakistan's most important site of Sufi pilgrimage, the book illustrates the felt and enfleshed ways in which saintly affections bind individuals, society, and the state in Pakistan through a public architecture of intimacy. Focusing on the life-stories of ascetics known as fakirs in Pakistan, it argues that intimacy with saints, as and when it thrives, alters our relations with history, or that saintly bonds excite futures in Pakistan, which are otherwise not available. By such reading, Islamic saints become lovers and queer companions just as a religious universe is made valuable to critical and queer forms of thinking. The greater impulse here is to grapple with queer as it flourishes in, or presents itself publicly in religious lifeworlds and ecologies – capacious conceptualizations of queer that remain undervalued if not entirely under-imagined by dominant theory.

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