The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Alessandro Boussalem

Project title:
Lives at the intersection: Exploring LGBTQ subjectivities in Brussels, Belgium

Description of Research Project
This research project will explore the relationship between space and identity for LGBTQ people from a Muslim background living in Brussels, by observing and analyzing their lived experiences, their performances and their narratives. The focus will be on how the multiple identities of LGBTQ Muslims are performed, negotiated and represented while individuals move across spaces in the city. Discourses around sexual diversity and cultural minorities in Europe often frame the promotion of LGBTQ rights as incompatible with Islamic religious and cultural values, resulting in the exclusion of non-heterosexual people from a Muslim background. The findings of this research will contribute to academic debates about the intersections of ethnicity, religion and sexuality; specifically, it will seek to explore the specific positionality of LGBTQ Muslims, taking into account the multiple discrimination they are subjected to and the physical spaces they occupy and move through in the city. The findings of the research will also provide organizations working with LGBTQ Muslims in European cities with knowledge about the specific intersectional identity of LGBTQ Muslims, as well as with tools to face the specific issues they face in their daily life (the identity negotiations they live in the different spaces they move through and the specific oppression and exclusions they face in different urban spaces). Merhaba, an organization working specifically in this field in Brussels, will be collaborative partner for this research.
The research project will have the following aims:
1. Explore how LGBTQ Muslims live, perform and negotiate their intersecting identities in different everyday spaces of urban Brussels
2. Understand the specific oppression faced by LGBTQ Muslims in Brussels
3. Provide civil society organizations working with LGBTQ people from a Muslim background with tools to address the specific oppression they face in the city
These will be achieved through the following objectives:
• Collect narratives and representations of urban spaces from LGBTQ Muslims
• Observe the lived experiences and daily identity performances of LGBTQ Muslims
• Analyze the relationship between space and identity formation, negation and renegotiation in the case of LGBTQ Muslims living in Brussels.

The research questions that will guide the collection and analysis of data will be the following:
• What is the relationship between space and identity formation, negation and renegotiation in the case of LGBTQ Muslims living in Brussels?
• What are the features of the specific oppression that LGBTQ Muslims face in Brussels, and how does this influence their daily lives and movements in the city?

GEO2103 Development and Globalisation

Qualifications and Achievements

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training, 2017
  • MA International Politics and Human Rights 2015
  • BA International Politics, Development and Cooperation 2013