The WGS department organizes an event on gender non-conforming activism in Brazil | News

Harvard’s Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies hosted a virtual event Thursday on gender diversity and minority rights in Brazil.

The event, titled “Gender Nonconforming Activism in Brazil,” brought together Alvaro Jarrín, Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, and Moises Lino e Silva, associate professor of anthropology at the Federal University. from Bahia.

The discussion was moderated by Robert F. Reid-Pharr, chairman of Harvard’s WGS department.

Jarrín said gender played an important role in the election of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018.

“[Bolsonaro] plays into that kind of gender scare. He tried to make people afraid of gender diversity and anything associated with homosexuality in a way that kind of plays on his political base,” they said. “Bolsonaro used what people call ‘the politics of disgust’ or ‘the politics of hate’.”

Jarrín said Bolsonaro took a homophobic approach that helped him politically among Christian voters. Jarrín closed his portion of the panel by discussing “artivism,” or the practice of using artwork and performing arts as a method to lobby for trans rights and equality.

Lino e Silva, who spoke second, spoke about his book, “Minority Liberalism: A Transvestite’s Life in a Brazilian Favela,” which came out this month. The book explores his experience of living in a slum in Rio de Janeiro.

“Slums are linked to long-term political movements and ideas of autonomy and resistance to the state,” he said.

Lino e Silva said his time in the slum changed his view of liberalism.

“Liberalism – as an ideology, as a political goal or as a theory – has a deep history in European philosophical thoughts and European political events,” said Lino e Silva. “So there is a way of thinking about liberalism that comes from colonialism. And the way liberalism works, it very much follows a normative pattern of prescribing certain liberties and liberties that people should have.

“What interested me was to question the very idea, the foundation and the stability of liberalism as we know it to include other ways of being free and other ways of having the freedom,” he added.

The event ended with a brief Q&A session during which panelists discussed Brazil’s upcoming presidential election, scheduled for October. Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist who served as Brazil’s president for the past four years, is set to face several challengers, including Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former labor leader who helped found the left-wing Brazilian Workers’ Party.

“It’s going to be a tough campaign. The only two viable options – the only two candidates – are Lula and Bolsonaro,” Jarrín said. “We hope that Lula will be elected and that Bolsonaro will not be re-elected. It would be tragic because [Bolsonaro] has been terrible, not just for LGBT rights, but for environmental rights, women’s rights – whatever you focus on, it hasn’t been good.

—Editor Darley AC Boit can be reached at [email protected]

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