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Queering Paradigms IV

South-North Dialogues on Queer Epistemologies, Embodiments and Activisms


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

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.

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Transgressing Transgenders: Exploring the Borderlands of National, Gender, and Ethnic Belonging in Ecuador


← 360 | 361 → ANNIE WILKINSON

This chapter seeks to challenge the “ontological separatism” (Phelan 1997) often found in studies of identities and subjectivities, in particular between race/ethnicity and sexual and gender identities.1 According to Leslie Moran, Shane Phelan describes this ontological separatism as an either/or logic that leads to the “marginalization or denial of important aspects of the experience of social exclusion” (Moran 2002: 301). In this chapter, I harness the potential of Queer Theory to analyze the experiences and narratives of an Ecuadorian transgender activist, to explore the mutual construction of non-normative ethnic and gender identities at the intersection of two particularly “dense transfer point[s] for relations of power” (Foucault [1974] 1990: 103) within the particularly politically-charged, postcolonial Ecuadorian context: race/ethnicity (and its relationship to national belonging) and sexuality.

Through a case study and narrative analysis of the life experiences of my research interlocutor, Jamal, I demonstrate how the exercise of power simultaneously flows in multiple directions, taking the form both of normalizing pressures and contestations of normativity, in the mutual process of identity construction in a single subject (to respect privacy, all names in this chapter have been changed to pseudonyms). Specifically, in my examination of subject-making in the narrative I analyze in this chapter, I argue that sexual identities are constructed through discourses of racial and ethnic difference and national belonging, and that racial and ethnic identities are ← 361 | 362 → similarly constructed through discourses of sexual normativities. However, this is not a passive...

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