Sexuality and Translation in World Politics

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Sexuality and Translation in World Politics

Sexuality and Translation in World Politics

This historical development is not unique to China. Sexuality and the politics linked to sexuality have become increasingly global since the turn of the twenty-first century, as has been argued by Dennis Altman (2001). The contemporary promotion of these words and their usage on a global scale has primarily grown out of the Anglosphere and more specifically the AngloAmerican context, sometimes vaguely termed Western.

When terms such as LGBT and queer cross borders they evolve and adjust to different political thinking. Queer became kvir in Kyrgyzstan and cuir in Ecuador, neither of which hold the English meaning. Translation is about crossing borders, but some languages travel more than others.

Sexualities are usually translated from the core to the periphery, imposing Western LGBT identities onto the rest of the world. Many sexual identities are not translatable into English, and markers of modernity override native terminologies.

All this matters beyond words. Translating sexuality in world politics forces us to confront issues of emancipation, colonisation, and sovereignty, in which global frameworks are locally embraced and/or resisted. Translating sexualities is a political act entangled in power politics, imperialism and foreign intervention. This book explores the entanglements of sex and tongue in international relations from Kyrgyzstan to Nepal, Japan to Tajikistan, Kurdistan to Amazonia.

They resonate differently in different surroundings because translation is a process of constructing meaning. Once on the move, the language of sexuality is uncontrollable. Sexual terms, policies, and instruments can never be fully controlled by their senders; they are constantly altered in the processes of translation (Berger and Esguerra 2018). Translation is therefore a political act, an act of transgression, subversion, and appropriation.

A book on sexualities requires a note on terminology. The global sexuality framework is largely associated with LGBT politics, an acronym that refers to L(esbian) G(ay) B(isexual), T(ransgender). This short code can be expanded to various degrees, assembling a host of sympathetic allies up to the umbrella acronym of ‘LGBTTIQQ2SA’ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-spirited and Allies’). The most common umbrella term is ‘LGBT’, although it has reductionist problems.

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