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Challenges of Doing Queer-Feminist Ethnography


June 26-28, 2024


Li Altunbulak, UNIBE

Ramil Zamanov, UNIBE


Prof. Silvia Posocco, University of London



This workshop resulted from the urgent need we felt for anthropology and the related disciplines to seek ways to explore queer, gendered and marginally sexualized subjects from queer-feminist perspectives. The workshop aims to launch a reflexive discussion on queer-feminist anthropology and its methods. Additionally, it will give space to the participants to bring the epistemological and methodological issues from their PhD research in order to discuss it while reflecting on methodological challenges of queer-feminist ethnography, including the issues of safety, security, sexual harassment, researcher-respondent relations and others. Without "anthropologizing queer studies" (Boellstorff, 2007a: 24), we would like to conceptualize these queer-feminist perspectives as disruptive, critical, subversive, and as a "potentiality or concrete possibility for another world" (Munoz, 2009: 1), to enable ways to imagine, think, or desire "otherwise" (Weiss, 2016: 634) in anthropology. 


Drawing on the feminist debates on anthropological research methods that have shown that the researcher is required to be committed to presenting their interlocutors as separate actors who can speak for themselves (Spivak, 1998). That has challenged the model of the detached researcher who maintains a critical distance from their research objects (Haraway, 1988; Code, 1991; Buikema et al., 2011). We believe that the anthropological data collection process deeply relies on human connections and personal engagement with the field. Therefore, queer-feminist anthropology, as we understand it, "would not only focus on researching queer lives," it would also challenge the traditional anthropological methods used in scientific research so far (Rooke, 2009: 150) in order to spark discussions through which we together craft queer-feminist methodologies using our own experiences of before, during and after the fieldwork as queer and/or feminist researchers. Therefore, this workshop aims to discuss the epistemological issues of queer-feminist ways of knowledge production under the white privileged heterosexual men's supremacy while looking at the knowledge production process through intersectional lenses.


As a target group, all the PhD researchers (from the fields other than anthropology, too) who employ queer-feminist methods in their research projects are encouraged to join this workshop. The workshop will start with a keynote speech given by our invited expert, Dr. Silvia Posocco, followed by 6 presentations (6 participants will circulate a paper or a short piece and the remaining participants will be assigned as the peer reviewers) from PhD researchers who study gender, sexuality and queerness in their research projects. During the workshop, the participants are also encouraged to organise group discussions to think and reflect upon the queer-feminist way of doing research in highly heteronormative academic environments. 








Boellstorff, Tom (2007a) A Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer StudiesIndonesia. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. 

Buikema, R., Griffin, G. et Lykke, N. (2011) Theories and Methodologies in Postgraduate Feminist Research. Researching Differently, New York and London: Routledge. 

Code, Lorraine (1991) What Can She Know? Feminist Theory and the Construction of Knowledge. Ithaca: Cornell UP.

Haraway, Donna (1998) "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective," Feminist Studies, 14/3, pp. 575–599.

Munoz, Jose Esteban (2009) Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York University Press. 

Rooke, Alison (2009) "Queer in the Field: On Emotions, Temporality, and Performativity in Ethnography", Journal of Lesbian Studies, 13/2, pp. 149-160. 

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (1988) "Can the Subaltern Speak?," in Marxism and the Interpretation of Cultures, C. Nelson and L. Grossberg, eds. 271-316. Urbana, 111.

Weiss, Margot (2016) "Always After: Desiring Queer Studies, Desiring Anthropology." Cultural Anthropology 31, no. 4: 627–38.




Information on the invited expert: 

Dr Silvia Posocco is based in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, at the University of London. Her research interests are located at the intersections of social anthropology, social theory, gender studies, transnational sexuality studies and queer theory. Posocco has a long-term commitment to ethnographic research in Guatemala, where she first worked with ex-combatants of the guerrilla organization Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes-Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (FAR-URNG). Since 2009, she has worked on legacies of the Guatemalan conflict from the perspective of an ethnography of transnational adoption circuits. Posocco's publications include the research monograph 'Secrecy and Insurgency: Socialities and Knowledge Practices in Guatemala' (University of Alabama Press, 2015). She is the co-editor of three collections of essays, including 'Decolonizing Sexualities: Transnational Perspectives, Critical Interventions' (with Sandeep Bakshi and Suhraiya Jivraj, Counterpress 2016). She has written numerous journal articles and co-edited a number of journal special issues, including ŒViolence and Affective States in Latin America, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 2016, with Martin Fotta and Frank Smith. Posocco is currently writing a book provisionally titled 'Traces, Remnants, Genocide: Transnational Adoption in Guatemala'.




Participation fee: CHF 60 


For students of the CUSO universities (Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel and Fribourg) and from the universities of Bern, Zürich, Luzern, Basel and St. Gallen, accommodation and meals are organised and covered by the CUSO doctoral program in anthropology. 


Travel expenses will be reimbursed via MyCUSO based on half-fare train ticket (2nd class) from the student's university to the place of the activity.



Deadline for registration 24.05.2024
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