Call for Papers: Queering Middle East Migrations


Scholarship on Middle Eastern and North African migrations has yet to fully integrate queer/sexuality studies as a primary lens of analysis.

While a small number of Middle East migrations scholars have explored the potential of gender as a category of analysis, sexuality has received scant attention. This lacuna is even more glaring in light of the fact that recent works on sexuality and migration, particularly those that document queer sexualities, have emphasized its viability and importance. As Martin Manalansan notes: “these studies have brought into stark relief the constitutive role of sexuality in the formation and definitions of citizenship and nation. Sexuality, specifically as it is understood in queer studies terms not only expands the meaning of migration but also alters our understanding of gender and challenges migration studies’ reliance on heteronormative meanings, institutions, and practices.”[1]

In light of this elision, Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies invites contributions to a special issue on “Queering Middle East Migrations.” This issue seeks to bring together scholars working on topics related to migration and sexualities from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, and to encourage others to begin to reflect on how sexualities inflect the migratory experience. By “queering” we suggest that sexuality is disciplined by institutions and practices which normalize heterosexuality, making it the dominant paradigm of being, and naturalize its constituent elements such as marriage, family, and reproduction. More specifically, we look to papers that seriously explore sexual desire and pleasure-seeking amongst migrant subjects, and the role these subjectivities play in decisions to migrate, and in their “search for material and social advancement.” We also invite scholars who investigate the intersections between sexualities and other social, economic, religious, and racial identities. Other questions may pertain to how sexuality plays in citizenship and asylum at various historical periods, and how sexualized and gendered images of migrants shape their encounters with borders and the state. Others may examine how Western conceptions of “coming out” have affected scholars’ ability to locate queer ephemera in Middle East and North African archives of migration. These are suggestive rather than exhaustive tropes, and we would welcome other queries and approaches about sexualities and migrations in, to, and from the Middle East and North Africa.

We invite full articles of 7,000-10,000 words, including endnotes, and shorter thought-pieces of c.3,000 words. Please send contributions to by October 1, 2020.

[1]  Martin F. Manalansan IV, “Queer Intersections: Sexuality and Gender in Migration Studies,” International Migration Review, Volume 40 Number 1 (Spring 2006):224–249