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Victimhood and Femininities in Black Lesbian Asylum Cases in Germany

(Under Review)
This paper focuses on Germany's assessment of refugee claims made by lesbians racialized as Black. Drawing on gender and queer migration scholarship’s critique of the asylum system as hetero- andhomonormative, the goal of this paper is to illustrate how lesbian asylum seekers’ uneven biographies are assessed at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and race. I will first examine the ‘double discrimination’ lesbian asylum seekers face within Germany’s asylum system because they are women and lesbians. I will second, assess the extent to which such double discrimination intersects with de-racialized idealizations of female victimhood and how that contributes to the exclusion of Black lesbians from refugee protection. I will use the example of two lesbian asylum cases from Uganda so as to outline some of the main effects of such asylum practices as they relate to the question of who deserves Germany's legal protection and how this relates to normative conceptualizations of female victimhood and humanitarianism.  Methodologically, this study combines semi-structured interview and case analysis with an examination of the everyday practices of Black lesbian asylum seekers (and refugees). 


Between Queer Liberalisms and Muslim Masculinities: LGBTQI+ Muslim Asylum Assessment in Germany

2019, Ethnic and Racial Studies 
This paper focuses on Germany's assessment of refugee claims made by LGBTQI+ Muslims. Based on the analysis of several asylum decisions, it seeks to render insight into the ways in which credibility is assessed at the intersection of sexuality and Islam.Drawing on Jasbir Puar’s theory of homonationalism, this article first argues that Germany is more likely to grant protection in cases where the asylum seeker successfully adopts German/Western standards of moral on gay/queer sexualities. Secondly, this article discusses the manner in which “acceptance” and “tolerance” for gay and queer Muslim asylum seekers is inextricably linked to constructions of Muslim sexualities and masculinitiesin current asylum and immigration debate in Germany. In closing, the article offers some suggestion on how to work towards a more inclusive asylum system in Germany and Europe more generally.

Muslim Women’s Rights Activists’ Visibility: Stretching the Gendered Boundaries of the Public Space in the City of Lucknow

2015, South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, Vol. 11
Within the last decade, Muslim women’s rights activists in postcolonial India have acquired increasing visibility within the contested public space. This paper looks pointedly at the manner in which three ideologically different Muslim women’s rights activists work toward carving out women’s spaces within the men-dominated political and legal landscape in the city of Lucknow. In doing so, it examines first: how Muslim women’s activists carefully orchestrate their appearance within the public space, and second: their strategic utilization of the media for the dissemination of their alternative proposals concerning the ‘true Islam’ and the ‘ideal Muslim woman’. This paper argues that Muslim women’s rights activists’ interventions within the public space destabilize hegemonic patterns of knowledge and authority. Laying bare the possibilities Islamic discourse and its embodiment offer for women’s agency, this paper challenges liberal and modernist perspectives that view religion as being obstructive to women’s freedom and autonomy.

Competing Model–Nikahnamas: Muslim Women’s Spaces within the Legal Landscape in Lucknow

2012, Journal of Law and Social Research, Vol. 3

This paper delineates the heterogeneity and tensions at work in Islamic family law in post-colonial India. Based on empirical data gathered in the city of Lucknow, northern India, it explores the ways in which (i) current debates on the form and nature of women’s rights in Islam challenge and fragment normative discourses on Islamic practice and ideology, and (ii) how in this context clear demarcations between secular and religious practice, and secular and religious legal authority get blurred. At the centre of my analysis is a document, called the nikhanama (marriage contract), which stipulates conjugal duties and rights as well as conditions of divorce and financial support. Heated public debate has surrounded recent attempts by both conservative and reform-oriented Muslim men and women to formulate a gender-just model-nikhanama. This paper challenges simplified modernist accounts that depict secular conceptions of state law as incompatible with religious non-state legal norms. Rather, the paper attempts to further a discussion of interlegality (Santos 2002) by conceptualising the legally plural landscape in Lucknow as a field of entanglements rather than as parallel systems of law and morals.

By studying the actual functioning of an unusual new “tribal” women’s forum this paper analyses how poor women of the Meena community in rural south Rajasthan reshape the complex landscape of legal pluralism in rural India. Based on empirical material, collected during six months of field research, the paper examines whether, how and to what extent gender equality and gender justice can be realized in a new hybrid legal body such as the “Social Reform Committee”. The case study cautions against the evaluation of institutions such as this based on western liberal or feminist criteria, for the struggle in the establishment of individual rights and gender equality have to be seen in a context where women’s lives are intertwined with their family and communities and where abstract citizenship rights do not exist. A focus on legal pluralism offers an opportunity to explore the formulation of alternative norms and the use of new institutional arena in current attempts to transform gender relations. A body like the women’s forum presents an accessible local arena for the negotiation of gender-just reforms. It is equally an innovative alternative to ‘modern’, expensive and ineffective state courts as well as to corrupt and male-dominated ‘traditional’ caste councils (pânchayats).