Of interethnic (dis)connection
Queer phenomenology, and cultural and religious commodifi cation in Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and The Buddha of Suburbia (1990)
in Queer Muslim diasporas in contemporary literature and film
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The book’s opening analysis of queer interethnic desire involves the work of Hanif Kureishi. The chapter undertakes a new reading of Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette under the auspices of ‘queer phenomenology’, probing the film’s blurring of private and public bodies and spaces and its assemblage of individual perspectives challenging racism and ethnic exclusivism. The chapter proposes that the film’s queer micropolitical disorientation challenges the essentialist identity categories dictated by mainstream dominant ideologies, as well as colonial social hierarchies and neoliberal Thatcherite ideologies. Meanwhile, it also focuses on how female Muslim sexuality and gender non-conformity also subverts Muslim and South Asian gendered spaces in the diaspora. It performs a queer phenomenological analysis of the film’s closing scenes, where the violence suffered by queer bodies in queer spaces generates trust between different factions of British society, hence micropolitically blurring the lines that segmentalise the nation’s ethno-religious communities. The subsequent analysis of The Buddha of Suburbia argues that queerness is forfeited for the sake of joining the dominant cultural mainstream, and that the truly transgressive queer characters are those who oppose normative values in the margins of British society.

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