Cite as: Ruth Ramsden-Karelse, ‘The Three Capucines: Minoritised Histories of Gender and Performance from Cape Town to Paris via Hollywood’, talk presented at the symposium Drag! Queer Crossings in Global Contexts, ICI Berlin, 13 May 2024, video recording, mp4, 19:23 <>
13 May 2024

The Three Capucines

Minoritised Histories of Gender and Performance from Cape Town to Paris via Hollywood
By Ruth Ramsden-Karelse

Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:19:23
First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin

Part of the Symposium

Drag! Queer Crossings in Global Contexts

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.


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)


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

Organized by

B Camminga
Tunay Altay
Özgün Eylül İşcen
Ruth Ramsden-Karelse