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Queering Paradigms IV

South-North Dialogues on Queer Epistemologies, Embodiments and Activisms

by Sara Elizabeth Lewis (Volume editor) Rodrigo Borba (Volume editor) Branca Falabella Fabrício (Volume editor) Diana de Souza Pinto (Volume editor)
Edited Collection X, 298 Pages
Series: Queering Paradigms, Volume 4

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Introduction: A Queer Postcolonial Critique of (Queer) Knowledge Production and Activism
  • Part One Queering Epistemologies
  • Queering the Geopolitics of Knowledge
  • Possible Appropriations and Necessary Provocations for a Teoria Cu
  • When Theories Travel: Queer Theory and Processes of Translation
  • Bloodless and Lawless: Queering “Family” in Social Work Discourse
  • Queer Literacies in the Brazilian Public School EFL Classroom: Performing Action Research
  • British Heritage Television: Reconstructing Queer Desire in Daphne (2007) and The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (2010)
  • “Say ‘Yes’ to Communities of Resistance”: Queer Canadians Problematize Psychology’s Explanations of Gay Male Body Dissatisfaction
  • Part Two Queering Socio-political Bonds
  • “My Anger Is a Legacy”: Queer-feminist Politics of Negativity within Contemporary Social Movements
  • The Legal Debate on Same-sex Civil Unions in Brazil: The Construction of Equal Citizenship within a Socio-cultural Context of Heterosexism and Homophobia
  • “Marijuana is a Crime but Homophobia is Just Fine!”: The Scandalous Logics of Queer Solidarity
  • Homonormativity and the Violence of the Geographic Solution
  • Multiple Identity and the Performance of Community: The Intersections of Ethnicity and Sexuality within the Queer Community
  • Part Three Queering Bodies, Embodiments and Identities
  • Queering Biopolitics: Normation and Resilience of South African Trans*-gendered Citizens
  • The Black Male Body and Sex Wars in Brazil
  • Raw Fantasies: An Interpretative Sociology of What Barebacking Pornography Does and Means to French Gay Male Audiences
  • Trans vs. Homo: Negotiating Borders of Gender and Sexuality in Mid-Twentieth Century Transsexual Autobiography
  • Transgressing Transgenders: Exploring the Borderlands of National, Gender, and Ethnic Belonging in Ecuador
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

← viii | ix → Foreword

The Queering Paradigms (QP henceforth) network, international conference and book series grew as a response to a localized materialization of the trappings of heteronormativity: refusal to recognize difference, leading to the dehumanization of the subjects seen as “different” (Butler 2004). QP was founded in 2008 by Professor B. Scherer, aiming to insidiously (under)mine normativities and the processes of exclusion and hierarchization that accompany them and are (re)produced by them.

Hetero- and homonormativities have been the primary focus of critique of the Queering Paradigms network. QP1 was held at Canterbury Christ Church University, in 2009. In its second incarnation, in 2010, the QP conference, held at the Queensland University of Technology, in Australia, contributed significantly to public policy debates, among others. In 2011, at the Oneonta campus of the State University of New York, USA, QP3 brought together a broad array of queer researchers and activists from many disciplinary affiliations and geographical locations. However, in the three conferences, representatives of North America and Europe greatly outnumbered Global Southerners. This trajectory brought to light yet another normativity to be ruthlessly combatted: the QP project, albeit unintentionally, seemed to be falling victim to North-normativity. With North-normativity we want to highlight the geographical bias of knowledge production and circulation within Queer Theories (but unfortunately not restricted to them).

QP4, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012, was the network’s first attempt to contest the logics of such an epistemological trap. The presence of Latin Americans was very strong, and there was a contingent of QPers from Asia as well. Although the number of Global Northerners was still very high, the participation of Global Southerners was impressive. The quality of the works presented highlighted the fact that researchers from the South have been actively incorporating queer theorization from the North; the opposite, however, did not prove itself to be true. Rarely did ← ix | x → any researcher from the USA or Europe cite papers or books produced in the Global South. This has to do with what we have been calling North-normativity: the North is the place where theories are produced; the South is the place where those theories are imported. The North is the subject of knowledge; the South is still its object. This book enters the scene as an attempt to trouble such unequal geographies of knowledge, by bringing together papers that establish global dialogues rather than perpetuating the North-South dichotomy. We are also pleased to announce that this volume is actually the first in a multilingual pair; its companion shall include other papers from QP4 in Portuguese and Spanish – the first non-English volume in the QP series. The dual form is a testament to the project’s commitment to its name, queering paradigms.

In closing, we, the editors, would like to thank the following people for helping to make this volume possible: our international team of peer reviewers, Matthew Ball, Sharon Hayes, Mario Lugarinho, Liz Morrish, Kathleen O’Mara, Helen Sauntson and María Amelia Viteri; B. Scherer for working as series editor and reviewer; as well as Lucy Melville, Alessandra Anzani and the team at Peter Lang. We also wish to thank the following Brazilian entities for their support: the Center for Mathematical and Natural Sciences (CCMN), the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Applied Linguistics, the Faculty of Letters and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ); the Graduate Program in Social Memory and the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO); and the Brazilian Association of Applied Linguistics (ALAB), the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) and the Rio de Janeiro State Research Foundation (FAPERJ).

Rodrigo Borba, Elizabeth Sara Lewis,
Branca Falabella Fabrício and Diana de Souza Pinto

← x | 1 → RODRIGO BORBA, ELIZABETH SARA LEWIS, BRANCA FALABELLA FABRÍCIO AND DIANA DE SOUZA PINTO

Introduction: A Queer Postcolonial Critique of (Queer) Knowledge Production and Activism

Queering Paradigms: South-North Dialogues on Queer Epistemologies, Embodiments and Activisms is the fourth volume of the Queering Paradigms series, bringing together cutting-edge research presented during the 4th International Queering Paradigms Conference (QP4), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July, 2012. In line with the QP project ethos of bringing together diverse epistemological and geographical allegiances, it intends to contribute to building a queer postcolonial critique of the current politics of queer knowledge production and circulation and of queer activism across Global South-North axes.

So far, as Ramón Grosfoguel (2008) has argued, moving across such interlaced knowledgescapes has meant following a unilateral vertical stream, i.e. a one-way “conversation” running from North to South. This spatial metaphor, besides making the verticality of the monologue visible, points to the production of a particular state of flow with two main characteristics. On the one hand, theories and concepts travel to the Global South, where they are adopted but hardly ever adapted, since adaptation of theories would “pollute” them with local twists. On the other, theories and concepts produced in the Global South are hardly ever adopted or adapted by Global North researchers.

Examining this kind of communication funnel is part and parcel of the critical endeavor we are trying to pursue here, which is related to what we term North-normativity: the North is the place where theories are produced; the South is the place of importation of those theories. The North is the subject of knowledge; the South is still its object (Sousa Santos 1995). This book proposes to trouble such unequal geographies of knowledge – a tenacious colonial practice reminiscent of the socio-historical dynamics ← 1 | 2 → described by Couze Venn (2000) in Occidentalism. Rather than perpetuating the North-South dichotomy, the papers gathered here are an effort to establish global dialogues that crisscross the North-South axes.

Thus, we desire for the volume to be taken as an attempt to foster what Grosfoguel (2008) terms “horizontal dialogues”, defending that Queer Theories should be, in tune with a postcolonial turn, epistemologically deterritorialized. To this end, the chapters have been organized in three different parts, so that voices from the South – generally cut off from lines of mobility – are heard as strong contributors to a queer space where other voices can learn from them and from their long-term experiences of “subalternity” concerning Western debates. Together, they constitute an environment of new dialogues across multiple localities, performing a political act, which, by not orienting to the above-mentioned stratified geographical logic, hosts enormous potential for reinvention. Readers may also notice that as part of our postcolonial stance and desire to celebrate rather than eliminate differences, we have maintained the regional linguistic specificities in each author’s contribution. This was done in part by including chapters with different types of spelling (i.e. some use British spelling while others use American, Canadian or South African varieties), and in part by not altering some phrases that are structured in a way that – while perfectly comprehensible – may sound slightly “odd” (or queer!) to so-called “native speakers” of English.

Part One, “Queering Epistemologies”, brings together six chapters that call into question institutional practices and discourses regarding sexuality in the fields of academia, family, secondary education, media and medicine. While queering traditional doctrines, they compellingly foreground micro-transformations co-existing alongside persistent normativities – a power-invested dynamic weaving together small-scale and macro sociocultural domains. The delineated scenario is one in which local alternative meaning-possibilities are claimed and sculpted amidst historical repetition, asymmetry and inequality.

In chapter 1, “Queering the Geopolitics of Knowledge”, Brazilian sociologist Richard Miskolci asks why Queer Theory continues to travel only from North to South. The author argues that even in an increasingly decentered world, we still witness the hegemony of academic exchange in ← 2 | 3 → which the North produces theories and the South is seen as a space for collecting data, making ethnographic incursions or applying (Northern) theories to particular cases. Miskolci explores how and why such a critical and politically-committed current of thought, one that has been able to address so many power relations previously ignored within different national realities, has not taken these same relations into account within its own international circulation.

In chapter 2, “Possible Appropriations and Necessary Provocations for a Teoria Cu”, Larissa Pelúcio, a Brazilian anthropologist, focuses her critical efforts on the uses of Queer Theory in Latin America. In a translation strategy we may call transcreation, a term proposed by Brazilian translator and poet Haroldo de Campos, Pelucio argues that due to the specificities of Latin American political, economic, and epistemological contexts and identity practices, the term “queer” and its Global North overtones cannot speak to Latin American researchers and activists. The author defends a Teoria Cu, whose reappropriation of “cu” – referring to the anatomical asshole, in English – indicates that we should not ignore what researchers and activists from the “asshole of the world” have to say. To this end, Pelúcio develops an anthropophagic reflection, seeking dialogues with feminisms and postcolonial texts. The idea is to go beyond translating “queer”, towards thinking of a theory that is informed by these productions, but also dares to (re)invent itself through questioning our own marginalized experience.

In the third chapter, “When Theories Travel: Queer Theory and Processes of Translation”, Brazilian anthropologist Pedro Paulo Gomes Pereira aims to problematize both the strength of Queer Theory and its possible limits, formulating the following questions: Are we facing another theory that moves from the center to the periphery (and that is bound to rewrite, in different colors, this center-periphery divide)? Does the persistence of the English-language term “queer” signal a geopolitics of knowledge in which some formulate theories to be applied by others? In other words, how can we think queerly in the tropics?

Chapter 4, “Bloodless and Lawless: Queering ‘Family’ in Social Work Discourse”, by Cassie Peterson, problematizes the fact that American social work has an enduring history and commitment to working with families. The family arrangements that are generally recognized by the social work ← 3 | 4 → profession profoundly influence the discipline unto itself, as well as implicate social work as a primary participant in defining “family” for society at large. Therefore, this chapter is an analysis of American social work’s contemporary defining representations of LGBTQ families. Twelve LGBTQ “family” research studies were culled and subjected to queer discourse analysis in order to illuminate how these alternative family forms are being constructed within the discipline and thus disseminated to the wider public. This analysis details the multiple ways in which heterosexual norms are privileged throughout the research studies and, in response, articulates the importance and possibility of bloodless and lawless relationalities.

Luciana Lins Rocha, in the fifth chapter, titled “Queer Literacies in the Brazilian Public School EFL Classroom: Performing Action Research”, brings Queer Theory to an applied context: the foreign language classroom. As a teacher-researcher, Rocha affirms she felt her pedagogical practice had been lacking an effective combination of Queer Theory and potential for social transformation. She therefore designed a project using action research methodology, in order to improve this aspect of her teaching practice. Using the notion of performative gender and sexuality as its guiding principle, Rocha’s study combines critical language awareness and Japanese popular culture to put traditional literacy practices into crisis in an English as a Foreign Language classroom in Brazil. The author defends that the social importance of queering school literacies lies in the possibility of presenting each and every person as fully human, regardless of how she/he lives his/her social life.

In chapter 6, “British Heritage Television: Reconstructing Queer Desire in Daphne (2007) and The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (2010)”, Bex Harper investigates the mechanisms by which two recent British heritage dramas represent and reconstruct queer women’s sexuality in the past. Daphne (2007) and The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (2010) indulge extensively in the pleasure of looking at both the heritage mise-en-scène and the portrayal of queer sexuality in an attempt to recreate a queer heritage. This chapter demonstrates how these dramas use voiceover and camera techniques to depict the illicit nature of queer sexuality and utilize heritage genre aesthetics (extravagant costumes and interiors, alongside idyllic landscapes) to foreground queer desire, rather than reconceptualizing those aesthetics.

← 4 | 5 → Alexander Vasilovsky, in the seventh chapter, titled “‘Say “Yes” to Communities of Resistance’: Queer Canadians Problematize Psychology’s Explanations of Gay Male Body Dissatisfaction”, discusses the fact that a sizeable body of psychological research suggests that gay men exhibit greater body image dissatisfaction than heterosexual men. However, much of this research has been criticized for presenting explanatory models that pathologize homosexuality by implying that it is the cause of gay male body dissatisfaction. This chapter invokes Queer Theory to elucidate the existing explanatory models – from abnormal psychosexual development to internalization – and relies on the voices of eight gay/queer Torontonians to problematize those models’ normalized construction of homosexuality. Additionally, the author explores the queer participants’ use of queer epistemology and their celebration of difference – both local and global.

As a whole, these opening texts frame the volume, enabling us to think about agency and forms of resistance, a path which is explored in the five studies composing Part Two, “Queering Socio-political Bonds”. By critically examining cemented social, cultural and political bonds, they point to the vitality of South-North queer thought as a continuous problematizing activity that can lead to transgressive practices. The authors seem to be well-aware, though, that considering the relations between interrogating practices and transgression could easily slide into a cause-effect approach. Warding off such teleology, they unfold their arguments in a way that the favored focus lies not on the predictable effects of critical-queer-deconstructive thinking, but rather on the possibility of unexpected forms of social reorganization – configuring resistance as the production of original political mosaics.

The discussion starts with Maria Katharina Wiedlack, whose chapter “‘My Anger Is a Legacy’: Queer-feminist Politics of Negativity within Contemporary Social Movements” discusses how contemporary social movements and forms of resistance, like the Occupy Movements, have triggered a new interest in rejection and negativity as a means of political action in the US. In contrast to most social movements that came before, voices appropriating anger and rigorously rejecting the existing social, cultural and political US system, rather than asking for inclusion and participation, are surprisingly strong within Occupy. The most interesting strategies of ← 5 | 6 → negativity, however, are those which draw on the construction of queerness, racialization, ethnicity and classism as threats against the (imaginary) makeup of US society, using art as their medium of communication. Queer movements started using politics of anger and negativity long before the uprising of Occupy Movements. Drawing attention to the participation of queer-feminist punk groups in the current Occupy Movement, the author portrays some of the very complex meanings and discourses of queer-feminist negativity. Wiedlack argues that queer-feminist performances of negativity within Occupy are a continuation of queer-feminist (punk) activism and a visible sign of class transgressing, cross-cultural, cross-generational, queer-feminist social bonds and resistance to hegemonic social structures.

Chris H. Reintges and João de Deus Gomes da Silva co-author the ninth chapter, titled “The Legal Debate on Same-sex Civil Unions in Brazil: The Construction of Equal Citizenship within a Socio-cultural Context of Heterosexism and Homophobia”. This interdisciplinary study, combining discourse analysis, legal studies and critical theory, examines the landmark decision of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court, on May 5th, 2011, which stated that the same rights and rules that apply to stable unions of heterosexual couples should apply to those of same-sex couples. The authors situate this legislative decision in the context of the country’s move towards social progressivism and a more liberal approach to major claims for LGBT rights. Besides accepting and protecting a social fact, the legal recognition of same-sex civil unions has the potential to initiate socio-cultural change as well as to improve the acceptance of homosexuality and to reduce social homophobia and prejudice.

The tenth chapter is titled “Marijuana is a Crime but Homophobia is Just Fine!: The Scandalous Logics of Queer Solidarity”, by Joseph Jay Sosa. This chapter explores queer possibilities of activist solidarity, outlining a project that is conceptual (what queer solidarities might look like), political (what conditions encourage and sustain queer solidarities), and ethnographic (how can we recognize and call attention to queer solidarities when they emerge?). Drawing on ethnographic observation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists who participated with pro-marijuana activists in a series of political marches in São Paulo, Brazil, the chapter analyzes protest chants that linked anti-homophobic to pro-marijuana political ← 6 | 7 → claims. Close readings of chants demonstrate convergent political logics that emerge through aesthetic and rhetorical practices of protest crowds.

In chapter 11, “Homonormativity and the Violence of the Geographic Solution”, Elizabeth Canfield looks at how hegemonic myths of metronormativity are internalized and how they play out in both the dominant culture and the LGBTQ subcultures in the US. These myths, by constructing the rural as backward, violent, and oppressive, thus also construct urban areas as sophisticated, safe, and liberating. These myths contribute to what Lisa Duggan calls homonormativity, which creates LGBTQ subjects as urban, white, male, middle class (western/northern hemisphere) consumers. Anyone outside this norm is erased from mainstream LGBTQ media images and politics. This myth-making and norm-reinforcing is not only dangerous (and, Canfield argues, structurally violent) to queer/trans folks living in rural areas (or all the complex situations “in-between”, as the label “rural” is complicated), but also non-hegemonic queer/trans folk who inhabit the “gay Meccas” in the US. The author argues that a more nuanced and intersectional view of how geographic location impacts queer identity formation (in all its complexity), notions of “community”, and politics is necessary if we are to truly form a liberationist politic. She proposes an intersectional radical queer futurity as a framework for social change.

The twelfth chapter, “Multiple Identity and the Performance of Community: The Intersections of Ethnicity and Sexuality within the Queer Community”, by Elena Kiesling, examines the social, cultural, and political performativity of multiple identity and community at the intersection of sexuality and race in three films: Harjant Gill’s Milind Soman Made Me Gay, Amir Jaffer’s In Between, and Marlon Riggs’s Black Is, Black Ain’t. Queer identities are shifting identities defined by a need for group resistance to ideals of the “norm”, as well as by highly individual experiences. Two questions are, thus, central: Is a juxtaposition of the anti-essential queer and the essential community a contradiction in terms? Can there be any such thing as a pan-ethnic queer community?

Summary

South-North Dialogues on Queer Epistemologies, Embodiments and Activisms is composed of research presented at the fourth international Queering Paradigms Conference (QP4), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In line with the QP project ethos of bringing together diverse epistemological and geographical allegiances, this volume intends to contribute to building a queer postcolonial critique of the current politics of queer activism and of queer knowledge production and circulation. However, rather than perpetuating the North-South dichotomy, the papers gathered here are an effort to establish global dialogues that crisscross those axes, as well as attempts at queering epistemologies, socio-political bonds, and bodies, embodiments and identities. They endeavour to trouble unequal geographies of knowledge – namely the North as an exporter of theories and the South as their importer; the North as a producer of knowledge and the South as its object of study – hosting enormous potential for reinvention.

Details

Pages
X, 298
ISBN (PDF)
9783035306446
ISBN (ePUB)
9783035397512
ISBN (MOBI)
9783035397505
ISBN (Book)
9783034318235
Language
English
Publication date
2014 (October)
Published
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2017. X, 298 pp., 6 ill.

Biographical notes

Sara Elizabeth Lewis (Volume editor) Rodrigo Borba (Volume editor) Branca Falabella Fabrício (Volume editor) Diana de Souza Pinto (Volume editor)

Elizabeth Sara Lewis é professora de Linguística, Língua Portuguesa, Produção Textual e Ensino na Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO). Seus interesses de pesquisa incluem linguística queer, identidade, performatividade e desigualdade social. Rodrigo Borba é professor de Língua Inglesa e Linguística Aplicada na Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Seus interesses de pesquisa incluem linguagem, discurso, gênero e sexualidade e linguística queer. Branca Falabella Fabrício é professora de Língua Inglesa e Linguística Aplicada na Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Sua pesquisa cria interfaces entre letramentos queer, sociolinguística e trajetórias de textos na internet. Diana de Souza Pinto é pesquisadora e professora do Programa de Pós-graduação em Memória Social na Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO). Sua pesquisa atual se concentra sobre o desenvolvimento de uma abordagem interdisciplinar ao estudo do discurso de pessoas internadas em hospitais psiquiátricos e prisões.

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