"Homophobia is a crime!": An ethnography of a political demand /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Sosa, Joseph Jay, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2016
Description:1 electronic resource (287 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
URL for this record:http://pi.lib.uchicago.edu/1001/cat/bib/11674592
Hidden Bibliographic Details
Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: William Mazzarella Committee members: Dain Borges; Judith Farquhar; Joseph Masco.
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Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-12(E), Section: A.
Summary:"Homophobia is a Crime!" is an ethnography of political experience that accompanies LGBT activists across sites critical to contemporary Brazilian governance. Activists with whom I worked declared this time as both a "watershed era" for gay and transgender recognition and a time when "homophobia [had come] out of the closet." Diverse readings of current events reflected activists' uncertainties about the increasing attention elected politicians and media commentators placed on LGBT politics. Since political democratization in the 1980s, sexual politics were often treated as secondary to economic development, and LGBT activists could accrue incremental victories with little organized opposition. LGBT advocacy had become central to Brazilian statecraft in areas ranging from municipal urban planning to international diplomacy. But growing visibility combined with the consolidation of conservative evangelicalism created a new source of antagonism. Contrary to activists' political expectations, the more visibility LGBT people gained in the public sphere, the more public opposition to their political agenda increased.
International observers called these events a 'culture wars' turn in Brazilian politics, but many of my interlocutors approached the new political terrain with confusion. Established solidarities on the left and common vocabularies around modernity, citizenship, and human rights no longer seemed to resonate. Working with activists who advocated for hate crime legislation, I observed activists struggle to make political claims while the rhetorical and material grounds for those claims were shifting. I describe this experience as one of political disorientation. The concept responds to a set of empirical questions initiated by the intensifications of social mobility, political realignment, and public attention to LGBT people in Brazil. Political disorientation is also a broader theoretical description of a structure of feeling that attaches itself to the indeterminacy of modern democracy.
A first dissertation section on activist cultures begins with Chapter 1, "Disorganized Civil Society," which examines a cohort of gay and lesbian activist younger activists who resisted the NGO structure of mainstream LGBT organizing and used social media to craft an alternative political commons. 'Disorganized' activists demonstrated the limits of that commons when they attempted to establish solidarity with black and trans activist groups, with limited success. Chapter 2, "Participants and Partners, But Not Partisans," recounts LGBT summit meetings where civil society organizations and state actors jointly reviewed and amended LGBT public policies. The chapter outlines contemporary grammars of Brazilian social movements, which mix participatory democratic initiatives with transnational civil society partnerships.
The second section narrates campaigns to combat homophobia. Chapter 3, "Homophobia Out of the Closet," shows the panorama of anti-homophobia discourse as it emerged in journalist accounts of violence, speeches of elected officials, and social movement demands. The chapter inquires as to the ethical and epistemic challenges to creating and enfleshing the category of homophobia. Chapter 4, "A Sense of Violence, The Feel of Statistics," analyzes the process by which an LGBT counterpublic sense of violence became materially remediated into statistics that could transmit public affect. Activists demanding more robust statistics focused on material production of statistics on anti-LGBT violence--reporting mechanisms, bureaucratic flows of data. Rather than scientific accuracy, activists demanded democratic participation in making statistics.
A final section examines protest aesthetics and affect. Chapter 5, "I'll Put My Mouth Where I Please," examines the role of protest aesthetics and affect in suturing political claims from distinct identity groups. The protest chant for which the chapter is named emerged as a broad demand for a politics of sexual liberation, free speech and drug recreation at a series of Sao Paulo 'Freedom Marches' in 2011. In an analysis of the Portuguese syntax of the eponymous protest chant that combines the present indicative with the future subjunctive, I demonstrate how activists rhetorically employed the emptiness of democratic claim to form broad solidarity.