Taking Off The Layers – Ummni Khan

Cultural critic, Paul Smith, posits that the individual as a coherent, discrete and unified agent is an illusion. Instead, he argues, there is “subjectivity,” which is “construed as a series of moments produced in the course of social life” (1988 p.32)  This autoethnography takes its cue from Smith by stitching together a clashing-incoherent subjectivity.  It begins by presenting a series of distinct personas. It then mixes and mismatches these personas, in image and text, exposing the multiple and overlapping selves that are negotiated at any one given moment.  Through anecdotal snippets, non-sequiturs, and confessions, it delves into such matters as the transformative power of books, normative passing, racism, exotification, ambivalent patriotism, immigrant-settler colonialism, sexual shame, furtive pleasures and life-callings.  Ultimately, it is about the epistemic possibilities of playing dress-up.

Smith, Paul. (1988). Discerning the subject.Vol. 55. University of Minnesota Press.

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Dr. Ummni Khan is an associate professor in Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University, and the Joint Chair in Women’s Studies at Carleton and the University of Ottawa.  Dr. Khan has written on a variety of topics, including BDSM, sex work, inter-cousin sexuality, “rapey” music, Canadian identity, feminist sexuality debates and transgendered rights.  Her book, Vicarious Kinks: Sadomasochism in the Socio-Legal Imaginary (2014), examines the construction and regulation of sadomasochism.  Her manuscript, Catching Clover, is an enemies-to-lovers romance featuring a ‘feisty’ feminist and an ‘infuriating’ alpha-male.