Gender Nonconforming Activism in Brazil Today


Thursday, April 14, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:20pm

This event is virtual and will be held in English with simultaneous interpretation to Portuguese. To register click here.

Speakers: Alvaro Jarrín, Lisa Goldberg Fellow, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; Associate Professor of Anthropology, College of the Holy Cross; Moises Lino e Silva, Department of Anthropology and Ethnology, Federal University of Bahia
Moderated by: Robert Fitzgerald Reid-Pharr, Chair, Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; Professor, Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and African and African American Studies, Harvard University

How do gender nonconforming activists and other marginalized groups in Brazil contest normative liberalism and Jair Bolsonaro's “politics of disgust”? Moisés Lino e Silva, author of the recently published ethnography “Minoritarian Liberalism: A Travesti Life in a Brazilian Favela,” explores what happens when liberalism is challenged by people whose lives are impaired by normative understandings of liberty. Meanwhile, current Radcliffe Fellow Alvaro Jarrín explores how travesti (a term used in Latin America to indicate a specific form of female gender construction opposite to the sex assigned at birth) and trans activists in Brazil reframe debates around sexual citizenship and gender identity by tethering them to larger aims about racial and economic justice.

Alvaro Jarrín is an associate professor of anthropology at College of the Holy Cross. They are the author of The Biopolitics of Beauty: Cosmetic Citizenship and Affective Capital in Brazil (University of California Press, 2017), which explores the eugenic underpinnings of raciological thought among plastic surgeons as well as the aesthetic hierarchies of beauty that condense race, class, and gender inequalities in Brazil. They are also coeditor of two edited volumes, Precarious Democracy: Ethnographies of Hope, Despair, and Resistance in Brazil (Rutgers University Press, 2021) and Remaking the Human: Cosmetic Technologies of Body Repair, Reshaping, and Replacement (Berghahn Books, 2021).

Moises Lino e Silva is the author of Minoritarian Liberalism: A Travesti Life in a Brazilian Favela (University of Chicago Press 2022) and a professor of anthropological theory at the Federal University of Bahia, which is located in Brazil. His field of focus is that of political anthropology, with a specialty in the ethnographic study of liberty and authority. This is examined in relation to issues such as poverty, sexuality, race, and religion. His initial in-field research considered the aspects and issues of freedom as experienced and perceived by slum dwellers in Rio de Janeiro. More recent work has studied the cultivation of Afro-Brazilian power and the nature of freedom and partial freedom after formal slavery, using ethnographic research to understand the current power dynamics between Latin America and West Africa. He is also the editor, with Huon Wardle, of Freedom in Practice: Governance Autonomy and Liberty in the Everyday (Routledge 2017). Lino e Silva was appointed a World Social Science Fellow by the International Social Science Council.

Robert F. Reid-Pharr is Chair of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He was previously a Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and both an Assistant and Associate Professor of English at the Johns Hopkins University. Reid-Pharr holds a Ph.D. in American Studies and an M.A. in African American Studies from Yale University as well as a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been the Jess and Sara Cloud Distinguished Visiting Professor of English at the College of William and Mary, the Edward Said Visiting Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut, the Drue Heinz Visiting Professor of English at the University of Oxford, the Carlisle and Barbara Moore Distinguished Visiting Professor of English at the University of Oregon, and the F.O. Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality at Harvard. A specialist in African American culture and a prominent scholar in the field of race and sexuality studies, he is the author of four books: Conjugal Union: The Body, the House, and the Black American, Oxford University Press, 1999; Black, Gay, Man: Essays, New York University Press, 2001; Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire, and the Black American Intellectual, New York University Press, 2007; and Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and Post Humanist Critique, New York University Press, 2016. His essays have appeared in, among other places, American Literature, American Literary History, Callaloo, Afterimage, Small Axe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Women and Performance, Social Text, Transition, Studies in the Novel, The African American Review, Feminist Formations, Art in America, Texte Zur Kunst, Humanities Magazine, Berlin Journal, and Radical America. He is the editor of Transition Magazine. He is also a member of the editorial advisory committee of the journal, Callaloo and a contributing editor of the James Baldwin Review. His research and writing have been supported by grants from the Library Company of Philadelphia, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. During the 2020/2021 academic year he was the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. During the Spring of 2021 he was the Ana-Maria Kellen Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin. His writing has been honored by the Publishing Triangle and the Modern Language Association. In 2015 he was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars and he is the recipient of a 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He is currently at work on a biography of James Baldwin and he lives between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Brooklyn, New York.

Presented in collaboration with Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Pacto pela Democracia.