Interview with Renata Guadagnin and Ana Mendes

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The seminar “CUIR: Decolonizing Queer Theory” took place in December 2020. It was funded by the Joint Commission. Renata Guadagnin (Terceiro Andar) and Ana Fernanda Mendes Costa (Queering Academia) organized four virtual lectures with international experts. Each was attended by about 70 people. I took this seminar as an opportunity to speak with the two organizers.

MK: What was the seminar “CUIR: Decolonizing Queer Theory” all about and how did it go?

RG: The concept of “CUIR” comes from a postcolonial critique of queer theory, which is understood here as white, European, privileged—and thus limited. This limitation can be extended by situated others rejecting the fate as colonized and proclaiming themselves. It’s a form of situated disobedience that aims to discover and reinvent discourses from the Latin American perspective.

AM: Interest in the event was huge. We had 280 people register in total. The audience was very diverse, too, and comprised students, teaching staff, representatives from NGOs and civil society as well as people with a general interest in the subject. They originated from Germany, Brazil, France, Mexico, Italy, and Syria. The participants’ diversity lent dynamism to the meetings. Many of the participants were extremely enthusiastic—the interaction between the speakers and audience was accordingly good.

MK: You acquired your speakers through the cooperation with Terceiro Andar. What is Terceiro Andar and what are its goals?

RG: Terceiro Andar is a national and international advisory platform for schools, universities, and training institutions in the areas of teaching, research, and innovation, with a focus on funding acquisition, certification, and international projects for individuals and various institutions. Our goal is the democratization of knowledge, among others through international projects, with the aim of expanding intercontinental dialogue and joint research efforts to share knowledge, teaching, and learning.

MK: So what happens next? What are your plans for the future?

AM: This semester, we’re focusing on the event series “Jenseits der Geschlechtergrenzen” (Beyond Gender Boundaries) organized by the Queer Studies working group and the Queering Academia action alliance. We’re excited about the possibility of working with different lecturers, including international ones.

RG: We also intend to continue the project, perhaps by adding a new block and expanding the range of topics covered. Since the Latin American scenario is so multifaceted and the political issues so explosive, we believe it’s important to continue the discussion on the construction of knowledge and its practical implications from a Latin American perspective. We want to build more bridges and partnerships for international cooperation in gender studies, generating a great plural exchange that allows us to perceive in a sensitive way the importance and influence of gender and diversity studies to ensure rights, freedoms and above all respect for difference, the “other”. Hence we’ll continue to plan new courses and expand our partnerships.

MK: That sounds very concrete. What other wishes and ideas do you have?

RG: We hope to remain partners in the dialogue evolving between Brazil and Germany, Latin America, and Europe with the aim of consolidating this exchange of perspectives that expands the opportunity for diversity that gender issues require. We hope that the Center for Gender & Diversity will continue to be a space for promoting and stimulating current and timely discussions. We also hope that the world can be a place where people do not wish to all be the same and their subjectivities are reduced to that, but rather that we can look to others to discern differences and understand that this is what makes us human. The differences have an impact on our subjectivity.

AM: That’s why this exchange between continents is so important. It allows us to speak from different perspectives without trying to impose an x or y way of life on each other, but understand that each territory has its own perspective and its own vibrant urgencies, and that dialogue between these different perspectives can help to disseminate information, construct theories and practices of addressing violence, and understand the impact of gender and diversity studies on any society.

MK: Thanks very much for the interview and best of luck to you both in all your future endeavors!

Originally from Brazil, Ana Fernanda Mendes Costa is currently completing a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in political science at Universität Hamburg. Her focus on gender and queer studies led her to co-found Queering Academia (Instagram @queeringacademia). This action alliance is striving to (re)establish intersectional gender and queer studies at all of the universities in Hamburg.

Renata Guadagnin is the international representative of Terceiro Andar. She took a master’s degree in criminology after her bachelor’s degree in law, and subsequently completed a doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul. She completed the internship forming part of her doctorate studies within the Faculty of Law at Universität Hamburg with a project on ethics and internet regulation between Brazil and Germany.

Web: https://aterceiroandar.com.br/en Contact: internacional@aterceiroandar.com.br