Dr. Yasmin Nair is a Chicago-based writer, activist, academic, and commentator. The bastard child of queer theory and deconstruction, Nair has numerous critical essays, book reviews, investigative journalism, op-eds, and photography to her credit. Her work has appeared in publications like In These Times, The Awl, The Chicago Reader, GLQ, The Progressive, make/shift, Time Out Chicago, The Bilerico Project, Windy City Times, Bitch, Maximum Rock’n’Roll, and No More Potlucks.
Nair's writing and organising address issues like neoliberalism and inequality, queer politics and theory, the politics of rescue and affect, sex trafficking, the art world, and the immigration crisis. Her work also appears or will appear in various anthologies and journals, including Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Stop It, Windy City Queer: Dispatches from the Third Coast and Arab Studies Quarterly. Most recently, her work has appeared in the Lambda-nominated anthology, Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America, edited by Tracy Baim.
Over the last year, Nair has been the investigative reporter following the Howard Brown Health Center story for Windy City Times, and widely praised for her coverage of the ongoing issues.
Nair is a co-founder and member of the editorial collective Against Equality; she contributed to their first book, Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage as well as the second, Against Equality: Don't Ask to Fight Their Wars, and the third, Against Equality: Prisons Will Not Protect You. She is also a member of the Chicago grassroots organisation Gender JUST (Justice United for Societal Transformation) and recently became its Policy Director (a volunteer position) and co-cordinator of the Chicago chapter of South Asians for Justice, a new group devoted to forging a radical South Asian-inflected political vision outside of electoral politics and Bobby Jindal. Nair was, from 1999-2003, a member of the now-defunct Queer to the Left. Her activist work includes gentrification, immigration, public education, and youth at risk.
She is currently working on a book tentatively titled Strange Love, about neoliberalism and affect. The work includes chapters on the discourses around autism, animal rights, immigration reform, gay marriage, and workplace feminism; the point of entry is to consider how "movements" arond these issues adopt the language and even the strategies of left/radical politics while in fact being deeply embedded in a pallid liberal and often even deeply conservative framework. In Fall/Winter 2011, Nair held a year-long residency at Chicago's Mess Hall, to curate shows and forums around the topics covered in the book.
This website is an archive of her published work and provides updates on her latest and forthcoming projects and appearances. While this represents much of what she has written, we are still in the process of uploading older articles and other work. The tabs here are fairly self-explanatory, and the work is organised by genre. I Don’t Live Here Anymore is a blog focused on political and cultural commentary. Off The Books is a blog about books: it includes multi-book reviews and critical essays on the state of books and publishing. Gay Marriage Hurts My Breasts is a compendium of her work on gay marriage. In an era when even the so-called "Left" and the Occupy Movement has claimed gay marriage as some kind of anti-capitalist cause, it seemed necessary to heighten and illuminate a critique of gay marriage - a movement that increases economic inequality, rather than decreasing it. Currently, I Don't Live Here Anymore is the best way to track her writing, from most recent to oldest, as we work on updating the other sections.
We’re gradually adding more images and keywords, so please bear with us; let us know if you find any broken links or are looking for a specific piece.
A last note: writing is Yasmin Nair’s main source of income. While she relishes the freedom that freelance writing gives her, she suffers the effects of being an uninsured person in a country which still does not grasp the necessity for real health care reform. If you like her work and politics and would like to show your support , please consider making a donation of any size, in cash or kind (gift certificates for office supplies, groceries, or chiropractor’s visits for a badly sprained knee are especially welcome). There is a “Donate” button among the tabs on the top of the home page.
Or, please consider subscribing to the new subscription plan, Strange Love.
Dr. Nair is available for speaking engagements, lectures, and interviews. Her analysis of the diminished place of writers and artists in a neoliberal economy - and why they ought to be paid more fairly - can be found in a widely-circulated piece, “Make Art! Change the World! Starve!: The Fallacy of Art As Social Justice - Part I.” Part II is forthcoming. “On Writers as Whores, Scabs, and Interns, and the Jacobin problem,” further expands on this.
Please do not send any relevant materials to any of the publications listed above.