2016-17: Queering Diversity
Responding to students' interest on Queer Studies, Professor Pérez-Toribio and Professor Torres conceive the WIIH 2016-17: Queering Diversity as an interdisciplinary education forum that will prepare all participants—students, faculty, and staff—to embark on a conversation about the multidimensional intersection of identities (sexuality, gender, class, race, ability, age, religion, political view, citizenship, etc.). The theme is designed to empower students with the intellectual and practical tools required to recognize their agency as citizens of the world, and work toward more equitable social relations between communities of difference. Queer theory and queer studies question the cognitive paradigms generated by normative ideology. It is not simply about questioning fixed sexual identities or increasing visibility of our campus LGBT community, but also about exploring LGBT research in order to improve educational practice and connect to other areas of educational research. The WIIH 2016-17 seeks to challenge the way Institutions tend to conceptualize diversity, namely, through a unidimensional lens, where individuals are seen as representatives of a particular sociodemographic group. The individuals that embody differences from normativized hegemonic systems are typically singled out to represent a specific diversity that is already constructed for them by social conscious or unconscious bias and stereotyping. We live in a society that pressures us to conform to an established identity and be part of a specific community, even declaring proudly what we are, not what we want, what we have done, or what we would like to explore in the future. Queering Diversity will explore the ways in which social pressure force individuals to fall into established identities by, for instance, encouraging individuals to proudly declare themselves to be part of communities already categorized in substitution of the narration of experience and the expression of want. Queer theory will allow this forum to address diversity not only in an intersectional manner but also in a dynamic/indefinite one. As international scholar Paul B. Preciado states, “What is important is not to be ‘queer,’ but to maintain a critical attitude towards the excluding and normalizing effects of all sexual identity” (Periódico Diagonal 2010). While this same discourse can be applied to any subjugated or non-dominant people or group, the WIIH 2016-17: Queering Diversity takes inspiration on Preciado's statement by avoiding prescriptive definitions of "being" and focusing on critically analyzing the processes and consequences of exclusionary and normalizing identities. Recognizing these processes will empower students to be agents of change in society. Queer stories have emerged within academic discourses, generating an influential theoretical field for the analysis of identity, culture, economy, and politics, redefining not only our understanding of gender and sexuality but also providing new critical perspectives. By studying sexuality in relation to discussions of race, class, ethnicity, citizenship, and ability, queer theory has brought to light the history of citizens historically marginalized in mainstream representation.