Queer Companions. Religion, Public Intimacy and Saintly Affects in Pakistan
Kasmani, Omar – 2022
Queer Companions is an ethnographic account of Sufi fakirs at Pakistan's most important Sufi site, the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander. Omar Kasmani argues that these pilgrims' affective connections to the site's patron saint, who lived and died in the thirteenth century, lead them to queer forms of living. While some of the ethnographic interlocutors in the book are themselves LGBTQI, and a few are women who trouble the gendered ordering of the shrine, Kasmani attends to the queer forms of relationality, intimacy, and affinity that the site allows for rather than on the individual identities of the people themselves. He shows how their relation to the world is altered by embodied and imaginative modes of moving away from social objects and expectations and toward the saintly. As the site is a state-run national heritage site, Kasmani considers how this form of queer living brings individuals, society, and the state together through a public architecture of intimacy. In tracing the veering paths of these religious figures, Kasmani demonstrates how this form of intimacy might offer not a withdrawal from the world, but rather a different kind of queer worldmaking.