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Queerifying the social environmental debate

Queerifying the social environmental debate

Fabio Oliveira

The Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change is pleased to welcome Dr Fabio A G Oliveira from Fluminense Federal University, Brazil, as a visiting scholar from March 15th to May 31st, 2023.

Dr. Oliveria’s research encompasses a diverse and interdisciplinary approach, highlighting queer, animal and anti-colonial perspectives. In 2022, he received the right to translate EUC Professor Andil Gosine’s article, "Non-White Reproduction and Same-Sex Eroticism: Queer Acts against Nature" into Portuguese. This translation will be released in 2023 in a special dossier of the Revista Psicologia Política. His current project, to be pursued while at York, is titled “Queerifying the social-environmental debate: Undesirable bodies as territories of ecocide”.

In preparation for Dr Oliveira’s arrival, we asked him a few questions to learn more about his work:

What are your goals during your visit to York University and Toronto?

Every trip abroad is filled with new experiences and one must be open to the unpredictable. I expect that during my visit to York University, and the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, I can expand the dialogue with professors, researchers and students and deepen the research that I’ve been developing on socio-environmental issues, from an anti-colonial and queer perspective.

I would also like to know more about the research that is being developed at York University and to evaluate the concrete possibility of international partnerships between York University and the Universidade Federal Fluminense, where I work as a professor and researcher.

What are the issues or problems that your current work addresses?

Currently, I work in an interdisciplinary program in Rural Education in an upstate campus of the Universidade Federal Fluminense – located in the city of Santo Antônio de Pádua, Rio de Janeiro. This is a relatively new degree (a little over ten years old) and is 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: a post-graduate program in Bioethics, and in Education. In both programs I research how colonialism/coloniality 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 have 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.

What kinds of impact do you see your work having, outside of its impact on academic debates?

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 (the edge) 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, a kind of hybridism. And this is evident in my work as an anti-colonial queer, ecological, and animalist activist and writer; and in my articulations with artists (groups of which I am a part), as well as autonomous initiatives and groups.

What do you envisage your work addressing in the future?

My project is to continue working and promoting actions that deepen the anti-colonial queer thought committed to ecoterritorial 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.

I hope, by doing so, to expand my choreographies through encounters that broaden my possibility of interlocution– and my visit to York University is a key part of my plans for this future I desire.


Dr Fabio A G Oliveira is being hosted by EUC Professor Andil Gosine, and will be participating in Dr Gosine’s summer courses, ENVS 3122 and ENVS 6349, in the lead-up to York University’s 2023 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at York University in May/June 2023.