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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Gender and repetition

I spent the last 10 days of the year in Juchitan, Oaxaca, and its surroundings. It is some sort of queer capital of Latin America. But its queerness is inherited and popular, less than urban and post-industrial I went to many parties of the so-called muxes. Muxes are not really gay man, not really cross-dressers, not really transvestite, not really trans-women. With my co-author Luanna Barbosa we claim that sexual and gender identities form alphabets (like LGBTTTIGA...) that are incomensurable with each other. We call this thesis `Queer Babel`: muxes (or hijras in India etc) are not translatable to any other identity in the Westernized alphabet. Muxes are mostly not operated, they take little hormons, some of them cross-dress, typically they desire man (but not always). They are quite accepted by their families and community in general (their counterparts, nguiu's, women socially taken as men, mostly married to women, are traditionally less celebrated). They are treated as women and engage in what is taken as female jobs, mostly associated with the beauty services: make-up, hairdressing, clothing etc. The name muxe seems connected to mujer (muxer), just like nguiu' is connected to nguiu (man in dijaa zaa, the local language). I can't stop thinking about repetition and drifted repetition: gender is repetition, mostly in performance. Repetition brings difference.

Giuseppe Campuzano has this interesting idea that gender identity was brought to the Americas by the colonizer. He goes around with his transvestite museum with mostly elements of Pre-colombian Peru. It is interesting to think of the muxes in this light. Men or women, would ask the colonizer. They are but not quite... They are simulacra, simulations but then again, if the colonizer brought identity, he drawn the line between the original and the simulation. The muxes I got to know are entrained by women and find ways to follow the swing with their folds. Shall we look at the folds or shall we look at the rhythms? The folds, of course, bring in themselves no difference, they are indifferent - the white difference Deleuze talks about. They are like the whole
of Anaxagoras, an assemblage of things like a storehouse. On the other hand, it seems to me, bodies are made of rhythm.

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