Performing Teoria do Cu: Beyond Translating Queer Theory in Brazil
- Sarah Nicholus (see profile)
- Brazil, Culture--Study and teaching, Emigration and immigration, Ethnicity, Immigrants--Social conditions, Latin Americans--Social life and customs, Queer theory
- Item Type:
- BRASA2020, Canceled Conference, Brazilian cultural studies, Diaspora studies, Latin American cultural studies, Queer and feminist performance
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- An audacious word that not only references “ass” but specifically the “asshole,” “cu” is not an appropriate term to utter in the respectable and formal spaces of the academy. It is, however, an important point of departure for transnational dialogue in Gender and Sexuality Studies that centers feminist, queer, transfeminist, anti-racist, and anticolonial perspectives from Brazil and other Latin American countries. Moving beyond translating queer theory into a Latin American context, teoria do cu mobilizes a geography of the body to propose the margins, the other, the abject, the asshole, as a place of speech and knowledge production. Taken up by artists, performers, and theorists across subaltern borders, it subverts the clean binaries of north/south, center/periphery, knowledge/excretion, normal/abject, and academic/popular to re-claim the body and bodies of knowledge. This paper argues that teoria do cu cannot be fully elaborated from within the traditional spaces of academic inquiry. It situates performance art as a key site of intervention and intersectional knowledge production on the (out)side of a queer academic cannon situated in the Global North. Exploring teoria do cu as elaborated by Brazilian theorists, this paper centers the work of Latin American performance artists including Pêdra Costa (a Brazilian artist and anthropologist based in Berlin), Jota Mombaça (a writer and “non-binary bicha” born and raised in the Northeast of Brazil), and Nadia Granados (a Colombian artist performing in Austin, Texas). Not only do I explore how these artists elaborate teoria do cu, but also how they employ it to denounce gender violence, represent queer diasporic identities, and speak to subaltern experience across histories of slavery and colonization. This paper explores a cuir/kuir/queer theory that traverses traditional geographic borders - one that can move with the increasingly mobile spaces of the body and into the interconnected spaces of a digital world.
- Nicholus, Sarah. “Performing Teoria do Cu: Beyond Translating Queer Theory in Brazil.” Chair & Session Organizer: Performing Audacity: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Brazilian Cultural Production. Accepted for the XV Congress of the Brazilian Studies Association. Austin, Texas. March 2020. Conference canceled.
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