Politics, Practices, Perspectives
Love as a concept has been simultaneously central and marginalized within the humanities and the arts. It has been theorized in various and often contradictory ways, positioned as both oppressive and liberating; on the one hand, serving political and economic agendas and, on the other hand, fostering solidarity within political action. This issue of On_Culture seeks to open up the complexity presented by love and its relevance to cultural discourses within academic debates, social practices, and the political present.
İzeddin Şadan’s Disquisition on (Homosexual) Love as Sickness
İzeddin Şadan, considered to be among the pioneers of psychoanalysis in Turkey, published a series of essays in 1936 titled “Eros (Aşk) İle Mücadele” [“Strife with Eros (Love)”] in the popular magazine Yeni Adam. He hailed these essays as a landmark in the scientific endeavor to objectively lay out the true nature of love. In them, he described love as “a volatile microbe” constituting sickness with its origins in Christianity; however, by inverted logic, he projected the same sickness onto Islam, in particular Sufism, which he disparaged as homosexual debauchery. This article looks at how Şadan’s pathologizing of Sufi love of beardless boys as sexual perversion is itself a symptom of pathology, pointing towards a fundamental change in the gendered/modernized/Orientalized subject’s relationship with the other and itself.
On the Relevance of Addressing Intimate Relationships in a Migration Context
Topics such as gender, sexualities, and intimacies, recently experienced processes of instrumentalization and culturalization in European public and political discourses on migration matters. Culturalization is particularly the case when it comes to questions of ‘integration’ where the cultural Other is contrasted to ‘European values’ to legitimate political objectives. Romantic love as a marker of living a morally ‘right’ intimate relationship is in this regard implicitly used to illustrate an incompatibility of Muslim migrants to ‘European’ ideals of intimacy. Based on conceptual thinking and literature review, this theoretical paper highlights the relevance of addressing intimacies, practices, and intimate ideas within current migration debates in Europe and Austria in particular. It is illustrated that there is a need to link the rising research stream on mobile intimacies to recent Anti-Muslim developments in European discourses. With the concept of belonging, the paper provides a possible approach to understand processes of exclusion and inclusion based on intimate ideas and shows their negotiable character. Further, this paper emphasizes the importance of thinking about Euro-Centric precategorizations and encourages micro-sociological inductive research to grasp the diverse understandings and practices of intimacies.
This article explores Friedrich Kittler’s conception of the intersection of love with modern technology and illustrates the theoretical insights gained by considering Spike Jonze’s film Her (2013). The German media theorist Friedrich Kittler (1943–2011) was among the first to study the discursive and material implications of modern technologies. Recent scholarship has stressed Kittler’s indebtedness to Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of technology. Accordingly, Kittler thinks through the latter’s contention that it is in and through modern technology that human beings are possibly confronted with ‘truth events,’ in which the particular time-specific ‘self-unconcealment of being’ takes place — and this unconcealment would not least materialize in the realm of ‘love’ (Gumbrecht 2013; Kittler 2014; Weber 2018).
In this article, I focus on the theoretical examination of Heidegger’s philosophy of technology in general and the concomitant notion of ‘enframing’ in particular to shed further light on Kittler’s reflection on love that pervades the latter’s entire oeuvre. The article then interrogates whether, and under what circumstances, modern technology might foster said ‘truth events’ by focusing on: first, love among human beings, second, love among technological beings, and, third, love between human beings and technological beings. Thereby, Spike Jonze’s critically acclaimed science-fiction drama Her, depicting a romantic relationship between a human being and a computer operating system, serves as a reference point in illustrating Kittler’s multifaceted conception of the nexus of love and modern technology.
Ecosexuality and the Legacies of Coloniality in Love and Sex
In this paper, I set out to uncover the legacies of coloniality in our understandings of love and sex by looking at ecosexuality as a conceptual framework. I argue that sex and love as defined and categorized by the logic of Western modernity stand in the way of imagining a manner of otherwise relating to others (both humans and non-human beings or matter). To imagine love and sex differently and to uncover their intertwined complexity within the pervasive discourses of coloniality, I base my approach on trans-corporeality, which problematizes ‘relation’ as understood in terms of subject/object binary. In the first part of this paper, I give an overview of how ecosexuality is defined and how it proposes a change in the way we see the earth — from ‘as mother’ to ‘as lover.’ After reflecting on the logic of modernity and Western coloniality to criticize the category of the human in opposition to nature, I think with Stacy Alaimo’s work on queer animals. Attempting to expose the anthropocentricism in our understanding of sex acts, I engage with the implication of ‘likeness’ to dissect the ecosexual idea of ‘having sex with nature.’ Finally, in a discussion of the entanglement of sex and love and their rootedness in modernity, I bring forth both the pitfalls and the potentialities of ecosexuality for a re-imagining of love and relationality.
Of Peripheral Bodies, Embodied Justice and Associated Labor
The essay is a feminist auto-ethnographic exercise in which I reflect upon my activist and academic life in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and migrant life in Germany as situated knowledges (Haraway 1988), aiming to provide a basis for solidarity among various, power-differentiated communities. BiH has become Europe’s “dumping ground” for non-European migrants but also a “waiting room” for its own citizens who are leaving as workforce to the EU. I juxtapose social protests and the post-2015 migrations from the Western Balkans to Germany — by which I was affected and now direct my research — with the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian migrations to the EU via BiH analyzing exclusion across the board — from racial profiling in the US to the EU securitization practice of pushbacks, and Bosnian authorities’ racism towards “migrants” as well as clientelism towards its own population leading to their migration.
Reshuffling the chronotopes of here/there and now/then destabilizes the center/periphery and individual/collective dichotomies as does affective vocabulary of bodies hurt or denied justice through wars, policing, privatizations, isolation, and violence. While going beyond identity politics as a mere counting and classification insistent on difference, I understand love as a fusion of a migrant’s affect, as a particular, translatable consciousness about bodies, and justice as “the form in which and through which love performs its work” (Tillich 1954: 71). While Black Lives Matter slogan “no justice, no peace” or BiH protesters’ shout ‘justice for David and Dženan’ signal an acute lack of justice globally, I conjoin these disparate struggles metaphorically through associated labor (Kardelj 1978) urging for love as a practice of solidarity in the ‘post’-Corona world.
Politicizing Love, Touch, and Care in Times of COVID-19
This essay builds on the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to tease out some of the ways in which love has been played out politically in relation to migration. In Canada, as elsewhere in the world, the pandemic suddenly rendered visible the oft-invisible care work traditionally performed by women, and now increasingly so by women of color and asylum seekers. Building on queer theorist Sara Ahmed’s understanding of immigration policies as a form of “conditional love”, I investigate various processes of (de)politicization that occurred when love and care became politically mobilized in response to the health crisis. I use the “care-body-work” constellation as working points to tease out some disciplining and transformative possibilities brought about by love. After discussing Ahmed’ reflections on love and immigration, I then examine how the pandemic unexpectedly made visible, and sometimes challenged, the politics of touch, love and care between state-sanctioned hierarchized bodies. While so doing, I notably unpack the “guardian angel” metaphor which was mobilized to speak of those doing care work, and especially those working as continuing care assistants for the elderly – overwhelmingly asylum seekers and women of color here in Quebec. Running through the discussion lie lingering existential, political questions: who cares (in both the practical and emotional understandings of the term), and how do we care about each other – with what political consequences?