Panel: “Other” genders: LGTB issues in contemporary Arabic, Hindi, and Iranian literature and film


Raum: Kath Theol IV, Hochparterre, Johannisstraße 8-10
Tag Zeit    
Fr 09:00-09:30 Consolaro LGTB issues in Hindi literature: between visibility and homophobia
Fr 09:30-10:00 Guardi Homosexuals “of the third World”. On some recent novels written in Arabic
Fr 10:00-10:30 Vanzan Iranian cinema and the LGBT question


Alessandra Consolaro

Beschreibung des Panels:

For a long time LGTB studies referring to cultures labeled as “oriental” has been a restricted field of research in Italy, and the theme was considered as marginal. In the recent past, though, the debate on non-western societies has gained force, both because of a growing interest from the public eye, and the publishing of literary and non-literary texts focusing on a non-heterosexual orientation. This panel presents the state of art of Italian studies in this field, and focuses on LGTB issues in the Arab world, India, and Iran through the analysis of literary and cinematic texts, and proposing some original research trends with an interdisciplinary approach.




Consolaro, Alessandra: LGTB issues in Hindi literature: between visibility and homophobia

This paper focuses on some Hindi literary texts presenting LGBT protagonists. While literature in English from India has recently shown the production of texts by LGBT authors, this seems to be totally absent in the Hindi field. Nevertheless, “homosexual stories” have been represented in a number of novels, short stories, and non fictional texts, both in the past and in recent times. I will analyze the way these texts construe “the homosexual” in order to discuss whether they can be considered  LGBT literature, defined both as the corpus of texts written for and by the LGBT communities, and as texts focussing on issues, characters, and narratives related to those communities.

I will problematize the notion of gender and the heterocentred stance that remains visible even in texts that were considered highly challenging when published.

Guardi, Jolanda: Homosexuals “of the third World”. On some recent novels written in Arabic

In the recent past a bunch of novels has been published in the Arab world, presenting a  main character who is a homosexual (gay or lesbian). Recent studies on homosexuality and literature in the Arab world have also been published, tending to analyze the subject in dichotomic way, i.e. they tend to be based only on an historical perspective and offer a monolithic image of homosexuality and Islam and of its literary expression. In my presentation I will analyze in particular two novels, Cinnamon’s scent by Samer Yazbek and The Stone of Laughter by Hoda Barakat, in order to underline how in the former novel the homosexual as a character is still bound to a class struggle representation and does not therefore can be regarded a LGTB novel; as for the latter, it challenges the notion of gender as something strictly defined, representing, in my opinion, a new aesthetic literary form.

Vanzan, Anna: Iranian cinema and the LGBT question

The morality code that limits Iranian cinema does not hinder the local filmmakers’ attempt at portraying social, cultural, political issues in contrast to the values proposed by the Islamic Republic. In spite of censorship, in the last three decades Iranian cinema has produced a large number of films that are a (not so much)veiled critique of the social-political arena. The woman issue, for example, is well represented by a variety of films known under the name “filmha-ye zananeh” (women’s films); however, the female gender is not the only one to rise the Iranian audience’s interest, at least by judging to the increasing number of films dealing with gender identities produced in Iran (and by Iranian filmmakers in the diaspora) in the last years. Even though the official narrative on the local LGBT community shifts from negation to harsh punishment, its presence is vibrant and undeniable and increasing in cinema as well.

Besides, and paradoxically, the Islamic Republic moralistic stance and its forbidding any possible contacts between the two sexes on the screen has encouraged a production of art films in which cross dressing and queer situations are normally staged as a substitution of “normal” relations between men and women. The paper examines some of these ambiguities and paradoxes related to gender in post Revolutionary Iranian cinema.