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Description:

The film Deseos /تابغر exposes the ways in which medicine, law, religion, and cultural tradition shaped dominant discourses of the gendered and sexual body through the narration of two parallel stories.1 The first is that of Martina, who lived in Colombia during the late colonial period of the early 19th century.2 The second is the fictionalized life of Nour, who lived in Beirut during the late Ottoman Empire. Part documentary and part fiction, the film presents an imaginary correspondence between these women. Separated by geography, culture, and religion they both faced the consequences of engaging in same sex relations.

Accusations:

The colonial court prosecuted Martina in 1803 for being a “hermaphrodite” after being accused by her female lover of having an “unnatural” body. Martina was tried in a court of law and ultimately set free after medical doctors appointed by the court were unable to find evidence of her lover’s accusation. This story is documented in the 1803 legal case found in the Archivo General de la Nación in Bogotá, Colombia.

Meanwhile in Beirut, Nour was forced to marry her female lover’s brother after her mother found them making love. Despite the fact that Nour’s story does not occur in a courtroom nor is it found in a legal case, notions of Islamic and late Ottoman laws, cultures, and histories condition her narrative.

Reference:

Bedoya, Pablo. “Las caras de la sodomía colonial: un análisis de la construcción de las identidades sexuales fuera del orden en las postrimerías del período colonial.” Bachelor’s thesis, National University of Colombia, Medellín, 2011.

text

  • Carlos Motta

date

  • 1803 - 1810

locations

  • Santa Fé, San Gil, and Suesca, Colombia; Beirut Lebanon; and Damascus, Syria

draws upon political history in his work in an attempt to create counter narratives that recognize suppressed histories, communities, and identities. His films Nefandus Trilogy (2013) or Deseos / رغبات from 2015 address the construction, categorization and repression of homoeroticism throughout the conquest and colonial period in the Americas. His recent database documentary Gender Talents (2015) presents video portraits of trans and intersex activists who thoughtfully perform gender as a personal, social, and political opportunity, rather than as a social condemnation.

screening

  • Introduction and discussion by Carlos Motta and Maya Mikdashi

production

  • A film co-written with Maya Mikdashi

draws upon political history in his work in an attempt to create counter narratives that recognize suppressed histories, communities, and identities. His films Nefandus Trilogy (2013) or Deseos / رغبات from 2015 address the construction, categorization and repression of homoeroticism throughout the conquest and colonial period in the Americas. His recent database documentary Gender Talents (2015) presents video portraits of trans and intersex activists who thoughtfully perform gender as a personal, social, and political opportunity, rather than as a social condemnation.

draws upon political history in his work in an attempt to create counter narratives that recognize suppressed histories, communities, and identities. His films Nefandus Trilogy (2013) or Deseos / رغبات from 2015 address the construction, categorization and repression of homoeroticism throughout the conquest and colonial period in the Americas. His recent database documentary Gender Talents (2015) presents video portraits of trans and intersex activists who thoughtfully perform gender as a personal, social, and political opportunity, rather than as a social condemnation.

Maya Mikdashi is a legal anthropologist and is currently a Mellon Postdoc at Rutgers University. Her upcoming book length manuscript entitled "Sex and Sectarianism: Secularism, Secularity and War in Contemporary Lebanon," is both an archival and ethnographic study of the regulation of sexual and religious difference within secular political systems. Maya works at the intersection of legal anthropology, feminism, queer theory, and theories of sovereignty, secularism and religion. She has worked on a number of documentary film projects, and continues to edit and write for Jadaliyya, an ezine that she co-founded and that is centered on critical approaches to studying the transnational Middle East.

Maya Mikdashi is a legal anthropologist and is currently a Mellon Postdoc at Rutgers University. Her upcoming book length manuscript entitled "Sex and Sectarianism: Secularism, Secularity and War in Contemporary Lebanon," is both an archival and ethnographic study of the regulation of sexual and religious difference within secular political systems. Maya works at the intersection of legal anthropology, feminism, queer theory, and theories of sovereignty, secularism and religion. She has worked on a number of documentary film projects, and continues to edit and write for Jadaliyya, an ezine that she co-founded and that is centered on critical approaches to studying the transnational Middle East.

1. Joscelyn Gardner, Poinciana pulcherrima (Lilith), 2009
Hand-coloured lithograph on frosted mylar
36” x 24”
2. An audience watches the premiere screening of "Deseos /تابغر" at opening night of "The Manufacturing of Rights" conference
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