In this talk, Tommaso Milani, researcher at the University of Gothenburg, will begin by offering an overview of the burgeoning research on multilingualism and sexuality (see e.g. Cashman 2018, Paíz 2020, Paíz and Coda 2021).
Sexual desire in relation to multilingualism
While this scholarship has offered important insights into the complex ways in which multilingualism and sexual identities are intertwined in a variety of contexts, we still know very little about the role played by sexual desire in relation to multilingualism (see however Takahashi 2013 for an exception). In saying so, Milani will re-cast Cameron and Kulick’s (2003) suggestion that research on language and sexuality, and language in society broadly, should engage more thoroughly with the notion of desire, paying particular attention to the ways in which desire may be “inflected by other kinds of salient social differences, for instance those of race, ethnicity, generation, class and culture” (Cameron and Kulick 2003:144; see also Milani 2013 and VanderStouwe 2019).
Three queer Palestinian men in Israel
Against this backdrop, the aim of this talk is to illustrate how desire is produced multilingually in Oriented, a documentary about the lives of three queer Palestinian men in Israel.
More specifically, Milani will use an intersectional framework in order to investigate the role played by a nexus of social categories (ethnicity, religion and culture) in the discursive production of desire that one of the main characters of the documentary expresses for Jewish Israeli men.
Variety of checkpoints
Through detailed analysis of conversations between this man and a Palestinian female friend, he will illustrate how desire is interactionally produced and simultaneously blocked by a variety of “checkpoints” (see also Ritchie 2010). Here sexual attraction, on the one hand, and cultural, ethnic and religious affiliation, on the other, become a zero-sum game, interactionally constructed as incompatible with one another. In the analysis, Milani also will illustrate the role played by Hebrew-Arabic code-switching in this interactional push-and-pull of desire.