Professor speaks on book analyzing Latin American queer theory

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Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Spanish and Portuguese professor Héctor Domínguez-Ruvalcaba discussed Monday how ideas of queer knowledge and its representations have been spread throughout Latin America.

Domínguez-Ruvalcaba said one of the hardest parts for him was to write about a somewhat controversial subject matter. During his career, Domínguez-Ruvalcaba has been criticized as a “colonialist academic” trying to impose queer concepts, which originated in the U.S., to Latin America. However, Domínguez-Ruvalcaba said he considers this work to be post-national.

“I don’t feel American yet. I don’t feel Mexican anymore,” Domínguez-Ruvalcaba said. “I don’t feel I am standing on firm soil when we are talking about academia.”

Domínguez-Ruvalcaba spoke about his new book, “Translating the Queer,” which details ways queer theory is used to understand different cultural and political expressions, at a talk hosted by the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

Though there are cultural barriers that can make translation hard to understand, it is important to pursue and develop this new knowledge, Domínguez-Ruvalcaba said.

“That is the position of us as translators,” Domínguez-Ruvalcaba said. “We are not translating words, we’re translating emotions.” 

Domínguez-Ruvalcaba was joined by Gloria González-López, sociology and women’s and gender studies professor, and theatre and dance professor Laura Gutiérrez for the discussion.

Gutiérrez said she believes this book helps to fill a void within queer studies as the most comprehensive book on surveying Latin American queer theory.

“Queer studies, as an area of study that emerged in U.S. academy in the early 1990s, has for the most part been very U.S.-based and inward working,” Gutierrez said.

For González-López, one of her biggest takeaways was how the book highlights historically marginalized groups.

“One of the most important contributions of the book is that the queer intellectual cultures that have been created through history become visible,” González-López said. “They are validated, and also more legitimate as producers of knowledge.”

Nina Sport, a comparative literature graduate student, came to the lecture to further understand effects of gender and body politics.

Sport said the more people think and discuss these issues, the more places to live and work will become inclusive. 

“It gives us more to understand about ourselves and those around us, by looking at them with empathy instead of fear or repulsion,” Sport said. “This is especially true for queer people.”