Cross-fertilisation between Linguistics and Economics: A fruitful endeavor
Linguist Eduardo Alves Vieira and political economist María Gabriela Palacio Ludeña refuse to remain within their own research bubbles, and decided to traverse disciplinary boundaries.
Their journey proved successful, and even led them to host the very first Upsetting Binaries and Hierarchies Conference (UBH22) at the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
At times, we are so tied to our disciplinary background and forget to look around and see what our colleagues working in different fields are doing, hindering the interdisciplinary aspect of our schools of thought. This (lack of) intellectual exchange among scholars from different walks of life ignited Eduardo and María Gabriela’s project.
Eduardo is a Brazilian linguist with an interest in language identities, policies, linguistic prejudice, and discourse analysis, to name but a few. Maria Gabriela is an Ecuadorian political economist whose research focuses on social policy, poverty and inequality, informality and labour segregation, and power. Both, motivated by their personal and professional experiences, and influenced by Queer Theory Studies, found common ground from which to develop a joint project.
Together, they drew up a novel agenda that poses new questions to social theorists interested in crossing disciplinary borders. Specifically, by starting a conversation between Queer Linguistics and Queer Economics, they tried to answer some questions that remain unaddressed in the world of work: how is the exclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals from the labour market hindering development in world regions such as Latin America?; why have minority rights developed asymmetrically in countries like Brazil and Ecuador?; how do context-specific social dynamics motivate social mobilities of marginalized identities?; and which are the hegemonic exclusionary discursive practices in the workplace that sustain social inequalities, favoring a cisheteronormative approach to socio-economic models?
To answer the questions posed above, they developed the project titled Upsetting Binaries and Hierarchies: Queer Labor Economics, responding to a growing need to discuss the lived experiences of marginalized LGBTQ+ people in the labor market of the countries where they come from and beyond. With the help of two research trainees, Texel in t’ Veen and Thomas Grant, the scholars proposed new tracks for the collective rethinking of their joint contribution to engaged queer scholarship. The project’s modus operandi was to learn alongside and from other disciplines, combining theories and methods to look at social problems that are usually tackled from one disciplinary perspective.
Towards a dialogue
This project has strengthened the interdisciplinary collaboration between the two Latin Americanists and facilitated a dialogue among colleagues working with Queer Studies from Leiden University and elsewhere(s). On September 22nd and 23rd, María Gabriela and Eduardo hosted the first Upsetting Binaries and Hierarchies Conference (UBH22) at the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences. The UBH22 participants had the opportunity to debate and learn from scholars from different theoretical and epistemological backgrounds (Queer Linguistics, Queer Economics, Queer Geography, Queer History, Queer Pedagogy). Likewise, during those two days of inspiring talks, the conference attendees were able to engage with a diversity of topics, ranging from Disrupting normativities through language: young trans people and the construction of embodiment to The making of an anti-gender language.
All in all, upsetting disciplinary borders and hierarchies and cross-fertilisation between Linguistics and Economics proved a fruitful endeavor. For Eduardo and María Gabriela interdisciplinarity remains at the centre of one of their current and future research projects.