Gender workshop

Unseen Sounds. Queer and Disabled (In)Visibility

Mara Pieri (CES)

12 de janeiro de 2017, 17h00

Sala 8, CES-Coimbra


Visibility and invisibility are recurrent concepts explored in relation to minorities and power relations. In particular, the insights produced by feminist scholars on the topic have been recently enriched by contributions coming from disability theory, queer perspectives and crip studies. The presentation will focus on the connections and the resonances that are created when (in)visibility is addressed on intersectional subjects, in particular disabled and queer subjects. In fact, disabled and queer subjects share common features: a similar history of oppression and discrimination; the difficulty in accessing political legitimacy; the struggle between identitarian and anti-identitarian streams in activism and academia; finally, the contestation of normalcy and systems of normativity.

In the first part, I will explore how able-bodiedness and heteronormativity work as similar systems of compulsion in the production of rules and in the definition of normalcy, creating norms about “acceptable bodies”. In the second part, I will present how invisible disabled and queer subjects challenge the presumptions of these systems of compulsion: since they inhabit a grey zone of non immediate readability, they subvert common assumptions on visibility and open to the subversive potential of invisibility. I will focus on chronic illnesses and lesbian femmes as examples of multiple identitarian layers that create a complex scenario of (in)visibility.

In the third part, I propose the figure of the acousmatic subject: a subject that produces voices from a position of invisibility, challenging the idea of passivity often connected to oppressed subjects. The final aim is to discuss critically some of the issues connected to (in)visibility and to overcome its limits through the expansion toward the realm of hearing as a fruitful metaphor. The presentation will thus draw on feminist literature, as well as contributions from queer theory and crip/disability studies.

Leituras recomendadas:
McRuer, Robert (2002) “Compulsory Able-bodiedness and Queer/Disabled Existence,” in Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (eds.) Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. New York: Modern Language Association, pp. 88-99.

Clare, Eli (2001). “Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies: Disability and Queerness”. Public Culture, 13, 3, pp. 359-366.

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Nota biográfica

Mara Pieri is a PhD student in the programme "Human Rights in Contemporary Societies" at Centro de Estudos Sociais at University of Coimbra. She graduated in Sociology at University of Trento, Italy. She works on issues of migration, disabilities and queer subjects with a specific interest on the connections between queer perspectives and human rights. Her PhD project is about Queer subjects and disabilities in Southern Europe. She is interested in interdisciplinary approaches which intertwin academia with activism and arts. In 2004 she founded Goghi&Goghi, a queer artistic collective; as performer and actor she was involved in several projects and shows that deal with issues of gender, transgenderism, queer activism.