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Sima Shakhsari


The Irony of Rights: Healthcare for Queer and Transgender Refugee Applicants in Turkey

[UNHCR Resettlement Assessment Tool]

The crowd in front of the police station is chatting in clusters in the brutal summer heat. Refugee applicants occasionally stop their conversation to say hello to friends and acquaintances who arrive on foot or on bicycles. It is Wednesday, the signature day (rooz-e emzaa) in Kayseri; a weekly ritual in every “satellite city” in Turkey, when refugee applicants are required to appear in person at designated local police stations to sign and prove that they are there. Until ...

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War of Position and War of Maneuver: Sexperts, Sex Pervs, and Sex Revolutionaries

[Femen Protest in Paris, Image by Joseph Paris]

The recent issue of Foreign Policy on sex has instigated critical feedback from many who have rightly challenged racist and Orientalist representations of gender and sexuality in the Muslim and Arab worlds. Several critics have rightly pointed out that essentialist approaches to culture that rely on facile binaries of men/women, freedom/oppression, and West/East lack any meaningful analyses of geopolitics, economy, colonial and post-colonial formations, and ...

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Queering the Qur’an? Sacred Ripping and the Holy Homonationalism

[Islamophobia and Unicorns; Image from Tundra Tabloid]

It may be hard to imagine that here, in the hot and humid Texas, being queer is “cool.” Believe it or not, Houston has a lesbian mayor and one of the first transgender judges in the nation. Hell, if it was not for the rest of Texas, gay marriage could possibly be legal in the land of Lawrence vs. Texas. But, the “feel-good” hegemonic queer culture in Houston is at best an epitome of American exceptionalism with an intense love for gay/queer normativity, or what Lisa Duggan ...

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Sima Shakhsari


Sima Shakhsari is the 2010-2012 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program at the University of Houston and starts her position as assistant professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Wellesley College in Fall 2012. She earned her Ph.D. in Cultural and Social Anthropology from Stanford University and has taught Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality and Anthropology courses at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, San Francisco State University, and the University of Houston. Her research interests include the Iranian diaspora, cyberspace, queer studies, immigration, transnational feminist studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled Blogging in Times of War: Iranian Diaspora, Gender, and Sexuality in Weblogistan. Shakhsari's new research, which is connected to the larger discursive context of the freedom movements in the Middle East and democratization projects in Iran, explores the way that biopolitics, necropolitics, and geopolitics produce and expend Middle Eastern queer lives in the name of freedom and rights during the “war on terror.” Her publications include “Weblogistan goes to war: representational practices, gendered soldiers and neoliberal entrepreneurship in diaspora” (Feminist Review, 2011); “Shuttling Between Bodies and Borders: Transmigration and the Politics of Rightful Killing” (Transgender Studies Reader II, forthcoming); “Chic of Queer and the Politics of Representation: Cyberspace, War on Terror, and the Hypervisible Iranian Queer” (Queering Middle Eastern Cyberscapes: Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies Special Issue, 2012); and “Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Historiography of Modern Iran,” (co-authored with Afsaneh Najmabadi and Mana Kia, Iran in the 20th Century: Historiography and Political Culture, 2009).