Jan Hutta (Universität Bayreuth), EPD author and contributor and Maria Rodó-de-Zárate (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) review the edited collection, Geografias Malditas: Corpos, Sexualidades e Espaços (Damned/Cursed Geographies: Bodies, Sexualities and Spaces), edited by Joseli Maria Silva, Marcio Jose Ornat and Alides Baptista Chimin Junior.
This important book focuses on the lives, politics and spaces of trans people, mainly in Brazil, but also in Spain, Chile, New Zealand and transnational space. The editors are members of GETE, Grupo de Estudos Territoriais (Territorial Studies Group), which is based at the State University of Ponta Grossa in Paraná, Brazil.
Geografias Malditas clearly breaks with the tradition of ‘speaking-for’, making a significant contribution to collaborative knowledge production. It goes beyond established practices of ‘giving voice’ by placing four texts written by travestis right in the first section of the book – rather than positioning them as subjective or illustrative add-ons. This is significant on both epistemological and political levels, this is not only a book about trans people. Rather, trans people, and in particular travestis, also figure prominently among the authors of the book. The significance of this issue can’t be overstated, since trans people in academic and scientific discourses have for decades been spoken for by so-called ‘experts’, who have pathologised and exoticised them. Even with the emergence of queer and transgender studies, it has been a common practice in social science debates to have cis-gendered scholars present ‘theory’, while trans people are attributed the role of telling their ‘subjective experience’, denying their capacity to engage on epistemological and political levels, and establishing ill-conceived hierarchies between ‘theory’ and ‘experience’ (Stryker, 2006).
Continue reading Jan Hutta’s review here.
As the authors state in the introduction, this books breaks many disciplinary boundaries in geography. First of all, it covers a still under-explored area of research: trans geographies. Internationally, only a small number of researchers study the reality of trans people (see Browne, Nash and Hines, 2010) and in Brazil the research on it is also very scarce. The authors start by illustrating the situation of gender and sexuality geographies in Brazil and show how it is not a welcomed subject in Brazilian academia. In this context, gender and sexualities geographies are struggling to be considered part of social sciences, and travesti geographies are taken as non-scientific and non-geographical issues. As they state: “the feeling of disregard, aversion and rejection in relation to our scientific discourse on travestis made us realize how it was perceived as the ‘damned’, in a Foucauldian sense, unable to acquire scientific value in the sacrosanct and inviolable purity of the geographical science” (page 12). This is where the title of the book comes from…
Continue reading Maria Rodó-de-Zárate’s review here.