On Friday, April 26th, the UCLA LGBTQ Studies program will present its 6th annual Q Scholars Undergraduate Research Symposium entitled “Our Existence is Resistance: [Art]iculating our Lives, Identities, and Activism in the New Millennium.” The symposium offers a safe space for LGBTQ+ undergraduates to share their research on topics such as Undocuqueer/Undocutrans visibility and the appropriation of queer Black culture, which may otherwise be overlooked in dominant neoliberal university spaces.
As a free-to-attend, student-lead, QTPOC-centric event, the Q Scholars Symposium is an exemplar of public service, pedagogical resource, and the advancement of knowledge. This symposium avoids many pitfalls that traditional research conferences do not. Many academic rituals are deeply flawed in that they often fail to be accessible and inclusive of significant input from less privileged scholars. For instance, in March of 2018, Stanford University hosted an “Applied History” conference consisting solely of 30 white men and one white woman. Furthermore, what does it mean for a conference to present scholarship that is meant to inform policymaking if the scholarship does not include meaningful contributions from people who are queer, of color, immigrants, disabled, women, or poor?
The Q Scholars symposium resists underrepresentation of less privileged scholars by encouraging LGBTQ+ identified undergraduate scholars to explore through their research the hxstory of violence and resistance within queer experiences and the use of art as a tool for social change. In this way, the symposium resists the reproduction of dominant narratives of Western superiority which constitute imperialism, state violence, and social and political domination. They invite you to consider the following questions:
How do Queer/Trans folks exist and resist within/against violent systems of oppression, such as politics of hate and white, male heteronormative supremacy? Hxstorically, how have Queer/Trans individuals enacted systemic change through art, self-preservation and love? How do we continue to overcome the social and political policing of Queer/Trans bodies as a means of attaining our own liberation? How do we actively support and empower ourselves and others?
In their written information, the symposium intentionally spells the word hxstory without the “i” in order to dismantle language that relies on male supremacy and a male/female gender binary. Other neologisms such as Latinx and Chicanx are also used by activists in higher education settings seeking to include individuals living with diverse gender and racial identities.
These innovative changes in language and representation are only a glimpse into the radicality of the upcoming symposium. To experience all it has to offer, join the scholars, department chair Alicia Gaspar de Alba, and keynote speaker La Loba Loca—a Queer doula, herbalist, educator, activist and influencer based in Los Angeles. The event begins at 8:30 am at the Charles E. Young Research Library and will conclude at 4:30 pm. It is free of admission. One last thing: there will be free food if you register here!