Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana — ‘Power to the People: on transfeminist solidarities beyond the ivory tower’

Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana gave a seminar for the Gender, Sexuality and Culture strand of the MA in Literature & Culture in UCD School of English Drama & Film on March 6th, 2018. chamindra-profile-pic-e1535809646857

Academic discussions on transfeminist perspectives often take an academic ‘ivory tower-focused’ turn. The interdisciplinary sphere of Transgender Studies is one in which gendered hierarchies of the cis-heteronormative academy are routinely appropriated and followed. It is a sphere where certain categories of trans people are preferred over others, along racial, socioeconomic and inherently patriarchal dividing lines. In many progressive feminist circles, the term ‘transfeminism’ continues to be viewed with scepticism and persistent misunderstanding.

This talk zooms in on the reality that transfeminist discourses and praxis has been primarily developed in Afrofeminist QTBiPoC activist spaces. It highlights the importance of a constant focus beyond the epistemic violences of the academy when examining transfeminist perspectives and their relevance to local and global sociopolitical challenges of the present time.

Chamindra Weerawardhana (PhD, Queen’s University Belfast, 2013), is a political analyst, lobbyist, researcher, educator and scholar-activist. She is currently a Visiting Research Fellow in International Politics at Queen’s University Belfast. In 2017-2018, she is also a Visiting University-Based Research Fellow at the Transgender Studies Chair at the University of Victoria. In February 2017, she was elected to the Executive Committee of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, and in a separate vote, as the Party’s LGBT+ Officer. She is currently the Network Chair of Sibéal: The Irish Feminist and Gender Studies Network. Dr Weerawardhana’s academic writing has appeared in international refereed journals, including Meridians, Labour History and Socialism and Democracy.