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Call For Papers: The Non-Exotic Erotic: Questions of Desire and Representation

Kohl is pleased to invite submissions for the second issue of Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research, slated for publication in December 2015. Young activists, independent researchers, graduate students and fresh graduates are particularly encouraged to apply. They also welcome submissions from seminal contributors in the field.

Click here to submit a manuscript through the Kohl editorial manager system.

Click here to review our submission guidelines.

Misrepresentations of the bodies, desires and sexualities of people in the Middle East, South West Asia and North Africa are embedded in the colonial histories, and in the social, economic and political complexities of the region, with all their racial, ethnic, class and religious diversity. Exploiting the erotic is a foundational aspect of hegemonic knowledge production, war and colonization. As a Black lesbian feminist poet, Audre Lorde explained how the erotic has been distorted and used to oppress women and distance them from their power*. In the MENA, the distortion of the erotic is tied to the objectification of women, the reproduction of reductive Brown and Black masculinities, and to the sensationalization of LGBTQ identities and lives, thus reinforcing consumerist and fundamentalist politics.

This issue of Kohl wishes to explore the ways in which the erotic has been used as a means of economic and political exploitation in the MENA, within the region and outside it. The exotic could constitute one particular way of perceiving that exploitation, especially when it reduces the erotic to a space of misrepresentation and discrimination. In other words, we are interested in papers that break away from the West vs. East dichotomy, and that engage with the erotic/exotic in relation to the MENA’s “others.” We are also interested in highlighting the spaces of the erotic that have been reclaimed by women, feminists and queer people as a means of survival, pleasure, and change.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Definition(s) of the erotic in the context of the Middle East, South West Asia and North Africa.
  • Historical representations of the erotic/exotic in the MENA region, and its reverberating effects on current events and contexts.
  • The erotic/exotic vicious circle, and the distortion of feminine, masculine, and genderqueer bodies.
  • The non-Orientalist depiction of women’s sexualities by local queer and feminist actors.
  • Reframing capitalism as an economy of desire and an active actor of exoticization.
  • The proliferation of gay tourism to and from the region, and the capitalist sensationalism of LGBT identities.
  • Issues of internal exoticism, especially in relation to class and ethnicity (Kurdish women, Bedouins, Amazighs, etc…)
  • Issues of outsourced exoticism, especially in relation to labor and trafficking (migrant workers, sex workers, etc…)

The deadline for submission has been extended to August 2, 2015.

Kohl accepts work in progress, provided full drafts are submitted. Please make sure to comply with the submission guidelines. If accepted for inclusion, please note that your paper will be translated to a second language by the Kohl team.

For further queries, please contact

The call is available for download in PDF format.

Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research كحل: مجلة لأبحاث الجسد و الجندر is an initiative of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) in cooperation with Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Middle East Office, Beirut.


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