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Critique Essay Humanities Law/Legal Natural Sciences Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

The banality of evil : crystallised structures of cisnormativity and tactics of resistance in a Brazilian gender clinic

By Rodrigo Borba, 2017

e aim of this article is to unveil how cisnormativity is institutionalised in a Brazilian gender clinic, creating an emotionally charged local regime of doctor/ patient interactions. Our interest is not only in illustrating how the clinic’s institutionalised normatitivies about trans bodies are the result of the crystallisation of particular transnational medical discourses, but also in showing how such a normative framework creates specific conditions for trans people’s acts of resistance. In order to capture this dual perspective on norms and resistance to them, we draw upon three important but somewhat neglected perspectives in sociolinguistic and discourse analytical research, which may bring some fresh insights to the study of language and discrimination more broadly: Hannah Arendt’s (1994) reflections on the ‘banality of evil’; Michel de Certeau’s (1984)ideas about the no less banal ways in which social actors speak back to power via a plethora of ‘tactics of resistance’; and transfeminism’s critique of language and the banalisation of hegemonic systems of oppression.

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