Mark Graham, Head of Department, Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Beyond the Sexual Subject: Queer Dimensions of Infrastructure

One of the starting points for this paper is Foucault’s work on the sexual subject. As is well known, Foucault wanted us to avoid demands to conform to and become a sexual type or species ensnared in the disciplinary matrix of sexuality. His advice was taken up and developed by queer theory and queer anthropology’s variant of it in their respective attempts (not always successful) to move beyond a focus on sexual minorities and identities. In this paper, I too want to explore subjectification, or, rather, to inquire into an anthropology that is ‘subjectless’. In doing so I want to extend the reach of a queer anthropology beyond identities and sexual minorities. I start with an overview of what a queer anthropology can do (based largely on my recent book Anthropological Explorations in Queer Theory). I then go on to present an example from Sydney, Australia, through a consideration of the queer dimensions of infrastructure. The infrastructures I have in mind date from the beginning of ‘settler society’, i.e. British colonial expansion in Australia at the very end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries.

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