Queer Pedagogy

Damiano Fina's research about Queer Pedagogy in the field of Gender Studies and Queer Theory is focused on the book "The dance of Eros and Thanatos for a Queer Pedagogy". The body and the performance are peculiar times and spaces in which we can play with transformations and we can share negotiations.

Introducing a Queer Pedagogy

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Queer pedagogy is intended to establish a connection between queer theory, pedagogy and art practice. Many human organisms cannot tolerate their lives. Finding an expression in our society is these cases is too difficult. The need of freedom of expression is the point of union between the activism of gender theories, butoh dance and queer pedagogy. Researchers involved into studies about “the expression” cannot retreat from addressing this issue. Hence the need for a queer pedagogy and philosophy is meant to take care of the society from its current violence.

Queer Theory and Queer Pedagogy

There is a constant tension between the human need to categorize and the deep awareness of the complexity of the world. Is the term “queer” suitable to embrace this need for revaluation of the categories we have conventionally used for a long time?

Nowadays the English word “queer” is ordinary in the field of Gender Studies. What does it mean? Replying is not easy. In English “queer” means bizarre, strange, original. Today this word is used mainly with a derogatory sense, to stigmatize sexual behaviours that do not fit into the heterosexual norm. In the current debate about Gender Theories the term is subject to constant criticism and reformulation, struggling to find a norm. In my research titled The Dance of Eros and Thanatos for a Queer Pedagogy[1] I wanted to reconsider the word “queer”, placing it at the center of a reflection about pedagogy and butoh dance.

Three meanings of the term "Queer"

There are at least three different meanings of the term “queer” within the Gender Studies.

  1. Firstly, the term is used as a “comfortable” umbrella to cover all forms of sexuality that stand out against the heterosexual norm, namely all categories and subcategories within the acronym LGBTIA.
  2. Secondly, “queer” becomes a category recognized within the LGBTQIA acronym, including all the different sexual forms that are not identified within the other definitions in the acronym.
  3. Finally, “queer” is used as a revolutionary word, which refuses categories and roles, including within its own philosophy all sexual expressions (also heterosexuality).

This third meaning of “queer” is not limited to the non-differentiation of sexual orientation, but it questions gender identity (man/woman), gender expression (masculine/feminine) and biological sex (male/female). From now on we will refer to this third meaning of the term “queer”, which refuses to normalize human expression about gender and sex.

Thinking and acting queerly

We consider the term queer in its meaning within the so-called “Queer Theory”, which states we need to release gender and sex from labels and categories of language. Being queer means not judging others’ gender and sex. Being queer is about considering the various forms of existence as the natural outcome of the expression of each organism. Certainly this expression is not limited to the relationship between a human being and its inner world, but it is in relation with everything around the live creature[2].

Being queer means thinking and acting queerly, considering a new methodology not only within our research and philosophy, but also within our vision of the world and language. It is a radical and revolutionary choice, that refuses to accept the rules of the world as they are and it is always ready to question the language itself.

There are two central aspects that motivate my research. First of all, the importance for the human organism to express itself and the close relationship between self-expression and social recognition. Secondly, we have to highlight the violence of contemporary society, that obstructs human organisms in their freedom of expression. The purpose of my research is to establish the methodological foundations for a philosophy and a pedagogy that assume the task of letting out the freedom of expression of the live creature.

  • [1] Fina D., La danza di Eros e Thanatos per una Pedagogia Queer, Lulu, 2018.
  • [2] Dewey J., Art as Experience, Southern Illonois University Press, 1987, ediz. origin. 1934.

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