Dissidents of normative gender and sexualities in Colombia and Mexico face a paradox. While there is an unprecedented level of legal protection for them -anti-discrimination bills, institutions, legal precedents, public policies- (De la Dehesa 2010; Díez 2015), they still undergo a concerning human rights situation (CIDH 2015), including everyday violence, discrimination and strong opposition from religious and right-wing political sectors. Critical Legal Studies have been aware of the limitations of law to bring about profound social change (Garcia 2006), and trans legal scholars have called for a critical trans politics that goes beyond traditional legal strategies.
In the search for alternatives to the mainstream liberal rights-based approach, this doctoral research focuses on cultural activism, an underestimated political strategy that deploys art and other creative techniques to support the quest for social justice (Crimp 1989). After running a qualitative case study of three individuals working with cultural activism around gender and sexualities in Colombia and Mexico -Lía García, Felipe Osornio and Manuel Parra- and conducting in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation of their artistic/activist work, there are several findings about the dynamics, strategies and potential of this activist approach.
Through their intervention in the realm of ‘ordinary affects’ (Stewart 2007), these cultural producers create new ‘affective climates’ (Ashkanasy & Härtel 2014)for the experience of sexual and gender difference and develop new repertoires of affective response in relation to identities usually seen as abject or worthy of social punishment. Strategies of cultural activism aim to subvert dominant representations and performances of marginalised subjectivities, to visibilise non-hegemonic identities, to resist different forms of oppression and marginalisation, and to prompt collective healing of wounds left by violence and discrimination. This research promotes the consolidation of alliances between cultural and legal activists in the pursuit of creative approaches to resist the current waves of hatred and violence affecting dissidents of normative gender and sexualities in Latin America.