Glossary entry:

“Queer” does not describe something that already exists. Instead, queer inaugurates a certain kind of future of intelligibility for beings who are not yet available for description and political mobilization. Queer theory begins with the acknowledgment that one cannot define the terms of a political project in advance. Queer theory argues that all identity categories are necessarily partial and incomplete. Indeed, identities are constituted by that which cannot be known or defined in advance. Queer in this sense is neither yet another category of identity (“I’m queer”) nor an umbrella term for all LGBTQIA+ communities, although it is commonly understood this way in the United States. Rather, queer is a material reminder of one’s relation to an unequal structure of power. It is a sign of linguistic humility, a way of taking stock of the necessary gap between the horizons of human cognition and the actual diversity of bodies, identities, and sexual practices in human cultures. The term queer allows us to acknowledge that the world is a much more complex and mysterious place than we ever thought possible. This conception of queer as the placeholder for a collective historical subject-in-process highlights the problems of cultural comparison, linguistic translation, and political community. Geopolitics is not merely implied here; it is actually constitutive of queer, destabilizing the sovereignty of the knowing subject in the Global North. [1]


Petrus Liu, “Queer: a Term from/of the Global South,” The Funambulist, Issue 50 ‘Redefining Our Terms’ (October 2023). azine/redefining-our-terms/ queer-a-term-from-of-the-global-south