Cursing the Curse: Libidinal Guerrilla and the Refusal of Moral Value in Brazil, from Pombagira to Trans/Queer Performance

Please join us!
April 4th
4-5:30 p.m.
Bingham Humanities Rm 100

 A person holding a bottle

 Photo credit: Jean dos Anjos (2021)

As colonial morality represented people of color as lagging behind white Europeans in terms of sexual decency, it is of great aesthetic and political interest that trans of color artists in Brazil have responded to this racially marked historical ranking of sexual behavior with a clear expression of libidinal defiance and retaliation. A brief look into contemporary artistic performances by trans of color artists in Brazil reveals a complex language of self-abjection and sexual warfare that forces a reconfiguration of modernity’s terms of value, and the obliteration of normative expectations for political subjectivity. While somewhat new in the Brazilian art and music scene, such structures of refusal and defiance of sexual codes has been a strong operative logic in Pombagira spirituality (particularly in Umbanda, Quimbanda, and Candomblé traditions.) In presenting the recent cultural production of trans of color artists in Brazil, a genealogical link will be outlined between such artistic repertoire of base values and the magical power of female sexuality embodied in Pombagira.
Pablo Assumpção Barros Costa is Fulbright Chair in the Arts at Indiana University (Spring, 2023), and professor of Dance and Performance Studies at the Federal University of Ceará, in Fortaleza, where he also directs the Graduate Arts Program. He holds a PhD in Performance Studies (NYU) and an MA in Communications and Semiotics (PUC-São Paulo). He was a Global Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University in 2017.

For information, please contact Prof. Karl Swinehart at
Sponsored by:
Comparative Humanities
Fellowship of Christian Queers (FCQ)
Indiana University Center for Latin American Studies & Caribbean Studies (CLACS)
Latin American & Latino Studies
ULTRA (UofL TransRights Alliance)
Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies