chapter  4
14 Pages

The Future Is a Foreign Country

Translation and Temporal Critique in the Italian It Gets Better Project
WithSerena Bassi

The role of languages beyond English in shaping contemporary Western discourses about sexual subjectivities has long been neglected in queer studies scholarship, which currently privileges the study of Anglophone cultural products and Anglo-American cultural history. This chapter offers a few preliminary reflections toward developing a “translational queer approach” as part of the ongoing interdisciplinary effort to develop a queer epistemology capable of engaging sexuality as a modern discursive formation alongside other modes of difference such as race, class, gender, nationality, and language. To make a case for such an approach, I turn to an atypical translation product: the “complete localization” of the It Gets Better project, a popular online campaign that vows to combat transphobic and homophobic bullying. Drawing on existing attempts in queer studies to study sexuality as a modern secular discursive formation and particularly from studies on LGBT politics, neoliberalism, and capitalism, I argue that the multiple refractions of metaphysical and religious discourse in Italian modernity may have intervened in the localization of the It Gets Better message and, as a result, categories of “time” and “change” were evoked in the Italian version of the project which defy positivistic and modernist paradigms.