Queerness, Illness: The Psychosomatic Materialities of Pakistanis
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My thesis investigates the gendered and sexual politics of health by studying the experiences of chronic illness and queerness within Pakistan. I locate my project within queer, disability, and psychosomatic studies to argue for an understanding of chronic illnesses as a particular manifestation of trauma and how paying attention to the agentiality of such illnesses can move us to a practice of a feminist politics of vulnerability and resistance. Thus, chronic illnesses can be understood as a form of bodily knowledge and disorder that alerts us to the experiences of larger socio-political inequalities and injustices. Such an understanding of chronic illness rejects both the medical and social model of disability, and instead works with the relational model of disability. Furthermore, I bring in queerness to argue for an understanding of queerness as a context specific disability because within the context of Pakistan the dominant conceptualization of queerness is one of illness. This is not to collapse queerness and chronic illness with each other, but to point towards the intersecting ways in which both are experienced and embodied. After all, the experience of chronic illnesses can be quite a queer experience due to compulsory able-bodiedness. As such, I will use intersectionality as both my methodology and theoretical framework to undertake five semi-structed interviews, supplemented by an autophenomenological account, to investigate the intersecting experiences of queerness and chronic illness(es) as a form of embodied, that is psychosomatic, knowledge-power nexus. After all, simply being queer in Pakistan does not lead to developing chronic illnesses, but it certainly helps.