The Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) will host Fabio A.G. Oliveira – adjunct professor in philosophy of education and permanent member of the graduate program in bioethics, applied ethics and collective health at Brazil’s Fluminense Federal University (UFF) – as a visiting scholar from March 15 to May 31.
Oliveria’s research encompasses a diverse and interdisciplinary approach, highlighting queer, anti-colonial and animal perspectives. His relationship with York began in 2022 when he translated EUC Professor Andil Gosine’s article, “Non-White Reproduction and Same-Sex Eroticism: Queer Acts against Nature” into Portuguese.
Gosine’s article exposed the tendency in popular environmentalist discourse surrounding overpopulation to disproportionately place blame in the hands of non-white and impoverished peoples. It also considered how the romantic activity of queer people in natural spaces is portrayed in literature as an affront to nature – thereby highlighting race, class and sexuality as critical perspectives from which environmentalist discourse should be evaluated.
Oliveira’s translation of the article – to be released in 2023 in a special dossier of Revista Psicologia Política – greatly expands the accessibility of Gosine’s work to the Portuguese-speaking world, including Brazil, where discussions of environmental protectionism, population expansion and queer rights are particularly relevant.
Oliveira’s current project, to be pursued while at York, is titled “Queerifying the social-environmental debate: undesirable bodies as territories of ecocide.” He will also participate in Gosine’s spring and summer lectures. EUC student researcher Danielle Legault spoke with Oliveira for a Q-and-A in preparation for his visit.
Q: What are your goals during your visit to York University and Toronto?
A: Every trip abroad is filled with new experiences, and one must be open to the unpredictable. I expect that, during my visit to York, I can expand the dialogue with faculty and students to deepen the research that I’ve been developing on socio-environmental issues from an anti-colonial and queer perspective.
I’d also like to know more about the research being developed here and to evaluate the possibility of international partnerships between York and UFF.
Q: What are the issues or problems that your current work addresses?
A: Currently, I work in an interdisciplinary program in rural education in an upstate campus of UFF – located in Santo Antônio de Pádua, Rio de Janeiro. This is a relatively new degree, the result of demands from social movements that for decades have been fighting for access to land and the right to food and basic health. We primarily work with peoples from the forests, such as peasants, riverine, Indigenous, and Quilombola, as well as communities from the urban peripheries of Rio de Janeiro.
At the post-graduate level, I work in two different programs: one program in bioethics and another in education. In both programs I research how colonialism has determined a perspective based on “hierarchical binarisms,” which has influenced the way bioethical issues are addressed. Among these issues I highlight environmental, animal, gender and sexuality aspects.
In this context, I’ve approached queer and decolonial theories to identify and decipher how colonialism has impacted the body-territories of queer and racialized people in Latin America, especially in Brazil.
Q: What impact do you see your work having, outside of its impact on academic debates?
A: My performance outside the academy, through activism, started before my professional academic performance. I say so because I understand my social dislocation as a “choreography.”
What I mean is that although my childhood was spent in a region of Rio de Janeiro that lacked economic resources, my family did everything possible for me to access the education that they never had. I understand that this was, in fact, an attempt to subvert a destiny produced against a large part of the impoverished population in Latin America.
I call this a subversive act of choreography because from an early age I was marked by “deviation,” that is, by being observed as a queer subject. Being “discovered” made me realize very quickly that formal institutions would not always easily shelter me. In this sense, activism often became the fundamental place from which I observe the world.
For this very reason, my research has been primarily thought and articulated on the frontier between activism and academia; my academic research is impacted by my activism and vice-versa.
Q: What do you envisage your work addressing in the future?
A: My project is to continue promoting actions that deepen the anti-colonial queer thought committed to eco-territorial and animalist agendas. To do so, I would like to advance theoretical discussions on the subject while also challenging myself to adopt new artistic languages to communicate my ideas… my visit to York University is a key part of my plans for this future.