We want to acknowledge the critiques we have received concerning the name Queeristan and allegations of cultural appropriation and/or orientalism. Therefore, it is important to us to give insight into the decision making process that led to the name, the composition of our own collective, and our decision to stick to a name that we love and under which we have been working for the past five years.
Queeristan was chosen by the original planning group in 2010, when they first held the festival. “We chose the name because the connection between Queer (as a political practice, appropriated from a US context of reclaiming non-normativity) in combination with the suffix –Stan (which refers to ideas of space/place/home across different language groups) reflected our desire to generate queer spaces in the city of Amsterdam and to queer ideas of space/home/place/belonging. We were also fed up with the militaristic imposition of a global politics of “war on terror” that relegates the word –stan to a sphere of negativity. The combination queer+i+stan in our ongoing conversations felt like a disruption of homonormativity and homonationalism, politics of fear and terror, and ideas of ownership over spaces/homes/borders/places. And it still does today.” -Queeristan, 2014
The organizing collective changes each year, because Amsterdam, and especially its queer scene, is very much in flux, subjected to changes of choice or forced relocations due to issues ranging from squat evictions and gentrification to national borders and obstacles concerning citizenship and residency.
Our organizing language is English and we are people who live, love, work, do nothing, desire, move through, create, and survive in Amsterdam coming from different cultural, national, social, linguistic, ethnic, racial, sexual, gender and class backgrounds. There are people in the collective that can geographically, culturally or linguistically identify with/relate to the suffix -stan and there are people who can’t.
Queeristan has never been about our collective, but about the spaces that we create and in which we can come together as communities. We invite you to continue the debate with us!