Zine about Feminist Pedagogies: Discussing Intersectionality, Accessibility and Feminist Labour

iii. Queer+Crip

In this section we unpack our approach to collaboration, a central structure of our work and theme for our understanding of feminist pedagogy. Hopefully this helps understand our transformative pedagogical approach better. We always work together, almost without exception, for several reasons. This section contains thoughts on the following reasons:

  • Creating room for multiple perspectives
  • Carving out the intersections of queer and crip as we know them
  • Accommodating and validating each other’s queer and crip experiences in work life
  • Providing freelance worker safety in a precarious and economically hostile society
  • Dismantling the norms of capitalist or spectacle individuality

1) From a feminist point of view, a multitude of perspectives is often very welcome*. We bring our own experience expertises to the table (chronic illness, gender diversity), as well as our other positions as marginalized, and often also privileged people. The idea is to create a structure where “expertise” is not singular, which it in normative pedagogical contexts often is (such as in lectures, guided tours or classrooms), but open to interpretations and other possibilities. In critical pedagogy, it is encouraged to disclose one’s own perspectives to the extent that participants have the possibility to critically assess their position in regard to the speaker. This, however, does not mean that “coming out” is by any means obligatory. The point of making room for multiple perspectives is to enable marginal and underrepresented perspectives to equally enter the discussion and common spaces that are constantly dominated by normative perspectives.

*) Well, not always: as we acknowledge the importance of keeping learning situations open to everyone, we do not welcome or approve any kind of oppressive perspectives.

2) The focus on queer and crip is an opportunity to unveil the intersection of these realities and identities as they occur to us. We often describe the histories of the terms, as they are both pejorative words that have been reappropriated by queer and crip activists to celebrate everything anti-heteronormative (queer) and reclaim the humanity of everyone regardless of ability or health (crip). Both queer and crip fields are diverse, critical and in constant movement, and they are not consensus-driven, which makes them hard to define. They often share a wonderful subversive attitude towards oppressive norms. Although we use queer and crip perspectives to challenge normative interpretations of artworks, learning, societal phenomena or exhibitions, they are not mere tools but actual lived experiences that intersect with other statuses that people have. We acknowledge that we are in many ways privileged within our own communities and compared to countless people who struggle with various additional types of oppression, while at the same time, we hope that our work will open possibilities also for others.

3) Equally important part of our dense collaboration is the fact that it provides a way of accommodating and validating each other’s queer and crip experiences in our work communities. Our identities may be easily hidden from normative gazes, which can be privilege but also creates specific struggles. As we know each other very well, we can provide support in situations where our experience expertise is being questioned based on our appearance. This, of course, is strictly a temporary coping mechanism as this kind of safety should without question always be provided by the institution or the organization where marginalized experts are invited.

4) A labour-based approach on the theme of collaboration is another central point in working together. As freelancers working in economically precarious situation and society that drives people to give their individual cultural contribution either for free or for extremely low wages, working together often feels like a radical solution, even if it is simple and nothing new. Our principle has been that we refuse to work alone, and in the light of our work, it has sometimes been even surprisingly easy to justify. As a pair, we can share the emotions and pressures of the working environments and give emotional, professional and even financial support for each other. This basically enables us to work with queer and crip issues as queer and crip persons, as such practices and structures are not a regular integral part of many institutional budgets or organizations. When institutions fail to accommodate queer and crip needs, we can try to accommodate each other.

5) Working together in the field of arts and culture, refusing to work alone can also dismantle the common norms and expectations that organizations, audiences and participants have of culture work, that unfortunately often drive commodification and individualism. For example, the work of a museum educator or guide contains a normative structure where “the guide” holds the important information and pours it over “the audience”. This kind of situation doesn’t encourage social negotiation, but if the social negotiation is already present in the dynamics of “two guides”, the stage is more open to start with. It is easier to resist the urge to respond to expectations when you are not alone.

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