Recent years have marked what scholars call the drag boom: the exponential growth of drag’s mainstream popularity following the widespread visibility of drag performers on social media and the commercial success of the United States reality TV competition RuPaul’s Drag Race. As the show expands to countries including the Netherlands, Thailand, Brazil, Germany, Spain, France, and more, the dominating role of RuPaul’s Drag Race has created the impression that drag has a universal standard. Post-RuPaul, mainstream audiences have come to expect normative feminine glamour; polished lip-syncing routines; and an ultimate, perhaps reassuring, ‘reveal’.

Yet such an impression fails to reflect drag’s historic and present diversity, beyond the reality TV cameras and, often, beyond the stage. From leading protests, to renouncing stigma associated with non-normative performances of gender and sexuality, to cultivating joy and defiance in the cultural spaces of ‘everynight life’, drag performers have long played vital roles in queer and trans communities. Across the globe, these cultural workers continue to navigate the persecution and praise attendant on queer aesthetics’ simultaneous criminalization and consumption. Moreover, in their full contextual complexity, practices of drag within queer and trans spaces often suggest that drag’s subversive politics may lie less in its function of troubling gender’s rigidity and more in its capacity to challenge the oppressive systems of power and attendant social inequalities that intersect with the gender binary.

In the wake of the drag boom, questions of what drag performance is and does are increasingly relevant. Such questions might lead to diverse understandings of drag, including as a queer and/or trans way of doing things, a method of critique, a form of activism, and an art form with a rich legacy of deconstructing and challenging dominant norms and systems of oppression. Focusing on multi-layered contexts of queer crossings, this symposium aims to develop critical approaches to drag that incorporate its range of uses by various marginalized groups in diverse contexts globally.

In English

10:30 Introduction by Tunay Altay, B Camminga, Eylül Özgün İşcen, and Ruth Ramsden-Karelse

11:00 – 12:30 Panel I – Beyond Gender

Old Drag: or, on The Mrs Merton Show
Sam Dolbear

‘Andihambi ndedwa’: A Queer-autoethnographic Account on the Tokenisation of Black Drag (Re)presentation in Cape Town, South Africa
Belinda Qaqamba [ONLINE]

Building Queer Mountains: Drag, Migration, and Sexual Citizenship in Germany
Tunay Altay

Moderated by B Camminga

12:40 – 13:40 Lunch Break

13:30 – 15:20 Panel II – Across Borders

CANCELLED: All You Need is ‘Love’?
Drag Performance, Race, and the Affective Politics of Canadian Multiculturalism
Kevin Nixon

‘Eine Reise um die Welt’: Performances of Gender and Nationality in the Artistic Trajectory of Ivaná/Yvana in Brazil and Germany
Ruby Mascarenhas

Drag Performances Without Clubs? Cross Dressing House Parties in Communist Poland: The Case of Lulla la Polaca and Ryszard Kisiel
Izabella Tyborowicz

The Three Capucines: Minoritised Histories of Gender and Performance from Cape Town to Paris via Hollywood
Ruth Ramsden-Karelse

Moderated by Tunay Altay

15:20 – 15:50 Coffee Break

15:50 – 17:10 Panel III – Hallowed & Reparative Drag

Hadassah’s Pentecostal Drag:
Sacred Reparative Queer Performance and Solidão
Joe Coyle [ONLINE]

Trespass as Deliverance:
How Drag Challenges Colonial Legal Regimes in the Philippines
Ruby Rosselle L. Tugade and Athena Charanne R. Presto

Catharsis of Drag Through the Lens of Tal-Nori
Isu Mignon Mignonne (異水)

Moderated by Ruth Ramsden-Karelse

17:10 – 17:40 Coffee Break

17:40 – 19:00 Panel IV – Drag Thinging and Thinging Drag

Dancing in Kathakali at Kitty Su:
Evolving Practices of D/drag Cultures in Indian Queer Performance Spaces
Gaw Warrier [ONLINE]

Send in the Dragclowns: Clown & Drag
Rémi Baert

Drag Things: Crossing into Non-Human/Non-Organic Drag Performance
Joe Parslow + Stephen Farrier

Moderated by Özgün Eylül İşcen

19:30 Keynote
Divas, Drag Queens, Aunties, and Other Academic Personas
Kareem Khubchandani

Organized by

B Camminga, Tunay Altay, Özgün Eylül İşcen, and Ruth Ramsden-Karelse


Tunay Altay
Rémi Baert
Joe Coyle
Sam Dolbear
Stephen Farrier
Ruby Mascarenhas
Isu Mignon Mignonne
Joe Parslow
Athena Charanne R. Presto
Belinda Qaqamba
Ruth Ramsden-Karelse
Ruby Rosselle L. Tugade
Izabella Tyborowicz
Gaw Warrier

Image credit: Queen of Virginity in Planet Lubunya directed by İrem Aydın, Photographer: Mayra Wallraff, 2023

Image credit: Queen of Virginity in Planet Lubunya directed by İrem Aydın, Photographer: Mayra Wallraff, 2023