Queering Paradigms V

Queering Narratives of Modernity

by María Amelia Viteri (Volume editor) Manuela Lavinas Picq (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection XIV, 336 Pages
Series: Queering Paradigms, Volume 5


The authors of this edited volume use a queer perspective to address colonialism as localized in the Global South, to analyse how the queer can be decolonized and to map the implications of such conversations on hegemonic and alternative understandings of modernity. This book is distinct in at least four ways. First, its content is a rare blend of original scholarly pieces with internationally acclaimed art. Second, it is a volume that blends theoretical debates with policy praxis, filling a gap that often tends to undermine the reach of either side at play. Third, its topic is unique, as sexual politics are put in direct dialogue with post-colonial debates. Fourth, the book brings to the forefront voices from the Global South/non-core to redefine a field that has been largely framed and conceptualized in the Global North/core.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Amy Lind And Lourdes Martínez-Echazábal - Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Manuela Lavinas Picq And María Amelia Viteri - Introductiones: Trastocar narratives of modernity
  • Marcelo Aguirre - Inauguración, Quinta Conferencia Internacional de Paradigmas Queer ‘Narrativas Queer de la modernidad’
  • Anamaría Garzón Mantilla - El cuerpo queer, la construcción de la memoria
  • María Amelia Viteri Y Anamaría Garzón Mantilla - Entrevista a León Sierra: ‘Es importante la politización de los artistas y de los artistas de las diversidades sexuales’
  • Eduardo Carrera - Sitios de memoria: tres acciones artísticas en la ciudad de Quito
  • Part 1 Why Theorize/Debate ‘Cuir’ Modernities?
  • Nikita Dhawan - Homonationalism and state-phobia: The postcolonial predicament of queering modernities
  • Sonia Corrêa - Charting the ‘Orientalized other’ through a ‘Latin American’ lens
  • Part 2 Decolonizing Sexualities
  • Momin Rahman - Querying the equation of sexual diversity with modernity: Towards a homocolonialist test
  • Josi Tikuna And Manuela Lavinas Picq - Queering Amazonia: Homo-affective relations among Tikuna society
  • Carlos Alberto Leal Reyes - ‘Queerizando’ a lxs muxes: aproximaciones a la deconstrucción del género en espacios rurales
  • Part 3 En Clave Decolonial
  • Lia La Novia - Puede besar a la novia: la experiencia de la transición de género como un encuentro pedagógico, afectivo y politico
  • Gracia Trujillo - ¿Y tú te defines como queer? Sobre genealogías situadas, debates y resistencias queer/cuir y transfeministas en el Sur (de Europa)
  • Elizabeth Vásquez - ‘Mi género en mi cédula’: un concepto nuevo por una puerta vieja
  • Gabriela Arguedas Ramírez - Cuerpos oprimidos de la modernidad in extremis: surrogacy, fecundación in vitro y la producción de descendencia
  • Part 4 Performed Homo And Hetero-Sexualities
  • Elizabeth Sara Lewis - Pegging, masculinities and heterosexualities: How narratives of men who enjoy being penetrated by women can contribute to social transformation and to queering the hidden homosexual norm in Queer Studies
  • Memory Mulalo Mphaphuli - Everyday heterosexualities of young people in South Africa
  • Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes - Abolición del pato: Discourses of Puerto Rican queer modernity and performance
  • Diego Falconí Trávez - Hansel/Hedwig, la Casa Playo, la Tunda: transculturaciones y decolonialidades literarias queer, cuir, cuy(r) en América Latina
  • Post-Script
  • Bee Scherer - Queer scholars, activists, critics and caretakers: Notes on the genealogy, impact and aspiration of Queering Paradigms
  • List of contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

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Is the project of ‘queering’ modernity an emancipatory, anti-normative project, one that leads to a decolonial future? Or is ‘queerness’ itself, with its linguistic Anglophone origins and Eurocentric assumptions, implicitly an imperial project that serves primarily to institutionalize a Northern/Western-imposed sexual modernization agenda in the greater global South?1 Similarly, how do notions about queerness or homosexuality become terrains of dispute for broader struggles concerning Westernization, globalization, sovereignty or secularization? How can we reclaim and maintain the emancipatory potential of ‘queering’ modernity in epistemological and methodological terms? These are some of the pivotal questions that implicitly or explicitly inform the contributions to this path-breaking and inspirational volume.

As a product of the Queering Paradigms V (QP5) conference held in Quito, Ecuador in February 2014, Queering Narratives of Modernity pushes the boundaries of how we think about queer studies and post/decolonial studies, with particular emphasis on epistemological framings of queerness from/within the greater global South, and as transcending global South/ ← ix | x → North geopolitical, linguistic, cultural and epistemological borders. QP5 drew upon various kinds of interventions – activism, forms of artistic and cultural expression and academic dialogues – taking place in the Andes, in South America, and the Américas and beyond. And it is, precisely, this inclusionary gesture, the experiential and critical polyphony that characterizes this volume that, in our opinion, deepens the understanding of post/decolonial queer studies produced in and about the greater global South. Chapter contributions are in Spanish and English, marking an unequivocal challenge to Anglophone linguistic hegemonies and introducing new discussions of queerness as an anti-normative project in regional activism and intellectual production. Similarly, the volume includes contributions on, for example, critical understandings of heterosexuality in South Africa (Mphaphuli), the political usage and (re)signification of ‘queer’ in contemporary Spain (Trujillo), and the relationship of homophobia to Islamophobia (Mahman), thus contributing as well to broader discussions about comparative queer post/decolonial studies. Moreover, it exemplifies the best of intersectional approaches in understanding queerness from post/decolonial perspectives, including examinations of queerness as an identitarian project; queerness as method; queerness as an anti-normative project challenging, rupturing, or resignifying colonial binaries; and/or queerness as an epistemology that informs our personal and political practices. Chapters address individual and collective engagements with gender, sexuality and other markers of identity as they are manifest in cultural representations, including in legal, policy, literary and cultural frameworks; and as they inform daily life, notions of kinship, family and intimacy, labor, and political affect.

Queering Narratives of Modernity raises several distinct yet related questions: What does it mean to ‘queer’ narratives of modernity, such as narratives of the nuclear family, marriage, the discourse of identity as framed in legal and policy discourse, or of sexual practices thought to run against the grain of a reproductive imperative, be it those governing societal norms or national ones? Is modernity typically understood as heterosexual, and likewise, as gender normative? To what extent is it possible to queer the institution of heterosexuality itself? How can we queer narratives of modernity in such a way to reveal their sexual, gender, racial, and class contradictions, particularly within epistemological frames that ← x | xi → emanate from regions other than the United States and Western/Northern Europe? How can we de facto decolonize queerness itself? Contributors to this volume address these questions through their own engagements with queer studies, cultural production and activism.

We both attended QP5 and were struck by the wide range of debates that took place there and the presence of new voices, especially from individuals who had traveled from other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Discussions on queer studies signaled a clear tension around the usage and reading of canonical Northern queer studies texts such as the work of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, J. Halberstam or Beatriz Preciado, and the kinds of knowledge production that emanate from anti-normative epistemological and political projects in the greater global South. While some speakers argued that the term ‘queer’ is itself a Western/Northern imposition, others considered the nuanced ways in which critiques of normativity, including but not limited to expressions of gender, racial, sexual and class identities that challenge middle-class, urban, Eurocentric notions of normative identity and respectability, are themselves examples of ‘queering’ narratives of modernity insofar as they challenge the liberal, colonial foundation of contemporary concepts of democracy, nation, community, identity, and economy. Yet others think of ‘queer’ as an act of trastocar, of disrupting or overthrowing the paradigmatic narratives of modernity, to turn them on their head, upside down, spin and shatter them it into multiple alphabets in order to create new narratives, new epistemologies of being in and with the world, always contracorriente, against the grain, of patriarchal reasoning and logic.

As part of an ongoing Queering Paradigms project, one that began in 2009 and whose main objective is to challenge ‘the hetero-homonormative and gender binarist assumptions of any given academic discourse [and, we may add, of other and multiple forms of cultural expressions and activism],’ this volume is a felicitous intervention that not only questions knowledge but creates it by means of incisive critical inquiries into the burgeoning areas of queer and post/decolonial studies in the global South. And while much remains to be done, grapple with, disrupt, we see the present collections of essays as an inspirational effort to continue and expand a conversation that is far from being over.

1 We use the term ‘greater global South’ to include not only the non-aligned, developing nations, formally known as the ‘Third World’ and now labeled the ‘global South,’ but also an assemblage of nations and regions within the so-called developed/First World/global North, that share similar economic and social indicators as those used to qualify countries and regions conventionally understood as belonging, in geopolitical and socioeconomic terms, to the global South. In a nutshell, by using the term ‘greater global South’ and not just ‘global South,’ we wish to highlight the porosity and the overlap when it comes to the growing gap between and within North and South, as well as to question the North-South divide in modernization thought/theory and signify how inequalities and capital accumulation cross national and regional boundaries.

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This project started at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, inspired by its irreverent rhythm, warm people and carioca beauty. The products of the QP5 conference are presented in this book, and it is our hope that this volume invites more connections between academia, activism, and art. It is also our hope that it continues to bring new possibilities of practicing academia with fresh, novel ideas and renewed creativity.

We are grateful for the support of friends and colleagues at different stages of this process. Bee Scherer and Sara Lewis supported the QP5 project from the beginning. Sonia Corrêa, Nikita Dhawan and Bee Scherer shared insights to set the tone of QP5 and at different stages of the project; Sonia offered further insights in the writing of this book. Special thanks goes to them and to our contributors to this volume, a courageous and fun group of groundbreaking scholars, artists, activists. Our Peter Lang editors were supportive from the beginning, doing their utmost to bring this book to fruition. Maristher Guevara, a graduate of International Relations and Applied Ecology at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, contributed reliable assistance through various editorial stages to make this book a reality, and David Barmettler’s constant support and careful review was invaluable.

Many people made QP5 possible that set the foundations for this book, among those our fantastic executive and academic committees together with a magnificent team of volunteers lead by Stephany Leavy and Jenny Zapata. The authors want to acknowledge the invaluable role played by Marcelo Aguirre, Director of Arte Actual – FLACSO, whose support and interest in this endeavor has been invaluable, together with QP5 Curator, Ana María Garzón. They would also like to thank FLACSO/Ecuador for the space and to each of those at that institution who believed and supported QP5 in so many different and significant ways. The generous support of the Ministry of Culture, the Ilustre Municipio de Quito, the Secretaría de Inclusión Social and the United States Embassy, among ← xiii | xiv → others, contributed to the success of QP5. The translation team of students provided by the School of Liberal Arts at the University of San Francisco, Quito through their minor in Translation Studies was key in facilitating communication in the Conference’s principal language.

Maria Amelia Viteri wants to thank Bee and the QP committee for lending absolute freedom to both the QP5 conference and this book. This has enabled a space where all of us involved where able to imagine new ways of practicing theory. Manuela Picq, her dear friend and colleague came at a turning point, injecting endless vibrancy to this project. She thanks University of San Francisco de Quito and her friends and colleagues there for embracing her academic work and taking it to new levels.

Manuela Lavinas Picq wishes to thank Universidad San Francisco de Quito for supporting her various research endeavors. She is especially grateful for the encouraging acompañamiento of three activist-academics friends: Sonia Corrêa, Nikita Dhawan, and Maria Amelia Viteri, who embarked her on an adventure beyond the horizon and thought her to dance according to the music.

| 1 →


Introductiones: Trastocar narratives of modernity

Lo queer problematiza y desafía los códigos y símbolos convencionales de la sexualidad, el género y el deseo en relación a temáticas sociales más amplias, tales como la desigualdad social y el ejercicio del poder; las diferencias sociales y económicas por diferencia racial, étnica o de clase; los límites de la legalidad y el derecho; la institucionalidad del estado y la pertenencia a la nación; el acceso diferencial a la educación, a la salud, o al uso del espacio y de los recursos públicos; la espiritualidad y la religión; el arte y la cultura contemporáneas; la globalización y las nuevas-viejas formas de colonialismo; la guerra, el terrorismo y los conflictos bélicos; o la migración y la movilidad social, por nombrar solo algunas

(texto impreso de forma artística en los halls principales de la Conferencia, Edificio de FLACSO-Ecuador).

On December 13, 2013, two months before the Queering Paradigms V Conference took place in Quito, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa and his cabinet met with transgender male-to-female LGBT activist Diane Rodriguez. Founder and president of the grassroots organization Silueta X, Rodriguez is known as the first transexual legislative candidate to the Asamblea Constituyente por el Movimiento Ruptura 25 in 2008. This ‘encuentro histórico,’ as the government labeled it, illustrates a shift: colonial heteronormative state formations are adjusting to contemporary sexual politics and are now engaged in the normalization of ‘trans’ identities and demands.

If Ecuador’s President juggled with the modernity of LGBT rights with one hand, with the other he quickly swept it back under the carpet. Soon after the ‘encuentro histórico’ with Rodriguez, President Correa bluntly ← 1 | 2 → attacked what he portrays as the ‘ideología de género’ (gender ideology).1 In doing so he resorted to morality by claiming that ‘la ideología de género’ does not resist a credible academic analysis and, most principally, ‘destruye a la familia’ (destroys the family). His speech not only attempted to invalidate decades of feminist research and theoretical debates, thousands of academic and policy writings, conferences, seminars, marches, reports, and efforts towards gender equality. In the statement he also attacked reproductive rights, in particular the right to abortion (even for victims of rape) and reiterated his view against equal marriage arguing that the LGBT community would not gain additional rights from same sex marriage.2 What he failed to mention is that there are significant differences between civil union and equal marriage, not least on the right to adopt a child.

Did Ecuador’s President realize that his speech was openly at odds with his own efforts to open a dialogue with (and understand) the LGBT community? He spoke about ‘excesos’. He said that the ‘ideología de género ya no es igualdad de derechos sino igualdad en todos los aspectos’. In his view this is not aceptable because he prefers ‘mujeres que parecen mujeres’, o dicho de otro modo: he prefers the normalized ‘ideal’ of hyper-feminized bodies.

As these controversies continue to evolve in Ecuador, the trend towards the normalization of trans bodies has also become increasingly palpable globally. It reached a peak when Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner, appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair and actress Laverne Cox became the first transgender ever to appear on the cover of Time Magazine. De muchas formas, estos dos íconos transgénero, que a su vez forman parte de una élite cultural global, confrontan a la par que reproducen las yerarquías y representaciones del cuerpo como netamente biológico y binario. Jenner and Cox as others who reached the pinnacles of global visibility more than often declare that that they were ‘born in the wrong body.’ This discourse is openly at odds with the critical reflections ← 2 | 3 → developed by a wide range of authors, in particular Thomas Laqueur, on how eighteenth-century Western thinking fabricated the ideology of radically different two sexes. Hay que preguntarse si la aceptación social sin precedentes de Jenner y Cox no se explica exactamente por que proyectan cuerpos fuertemente grabados por la diferencia de los sexos radicalmente opuestos entre si al interior del cual asumen un patrón de feminidad convencional. Este proceso brings con fuerza una nueva normalización del tipo de mujer y por tanto feminidad socialmente aceptada en estas transformaciones. Da rienda a preguntas sobre los órganos genitales como una base para womanhood y reforza la patologización del género medicalizada como gender identity disorder (gender dysphoria) como en el caso de U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning, famous for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks.

This book confronts this normalization through a kaleidoscope of critical reflections shared and debated at the Fifth Queering Paradigms International Conference (QP5), including theoretical debates on western modernity, political campaigns in locations across the global south, photography and performance.


XIV, 336
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (December)
Global South North-south Decolonization Globalisation
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2016. XIV, 336 pp., 13 coloured ill., 6 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

María Amelia Viteri (Volume editor) Manuela Lavinas Picq (Volume editor)

María Amelia Viteri holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from American University in Washington DC, with a focus on race, gender and social justice, and is currently Professor of Anthropology at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). Her research bridges citizenship, belonging and identity within a transnational and intersectional framework that highlights sexuality and gender at its core. Her work incorporates visual arts as additional tools that bring academia closer to activists’ and local communities’ concerns, and has informed both academic knowledge and public policy. Moving between the geo-political spaces of the US and Ecuador through research and teaching, she speaks from the position of a transnational herself. She is the author of Desbordes: Translating Racial, Ethnic, Sexual and Gender Identities across the Americas. Manuela Lavinas Picq is Professor of International Relations at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), Ecuador. She has been Member at the Institute for Advanced Study (2014), Lowenstein Fellow at Amherst College (2011), and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center (2005). She is the co-editor of Sexualities in World Politics and publishes both in scholarly journals and international media.


Title: Queering Paradigms V