Untranslatable wounds

On colonialidad, cisheteronormativity and biculturalism


  • María Amelia Viteri University of Maryland/Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)




colonialism, linguistic inequality, decolonising language, power dynamics, ‘gender ideology’, sexuality, Latin America


A good starting point for revisiting the intersections of language, gender and sexuality is to acknowledge and understand how colonial wounds and legacies play out in our everyday lives. This essay critically addresses the multiple ways in which we are all marked in one way or another by our colonial relations and their intersections. A careful unpacking of mechanisms and linkages is critical for identifying strategies and tactics of struggle that might lead to more equitable present-days characterised by esperanza (hope). Yet a desire to decolonise language and language practices without recognising the lived experience of our own messy and colonial entanglements will never be enough to resignify the systems that hold racial, ethnic, gender, sexual and linguistic inequalities in place. This essay highlights the acts of desbordar (undoing/overflowing), trasto-car (queering) and resentir (feeling again) as alternative strategies that can be used to fracture the architectures of colonialism, starting with our own.

Author Biography

María Amelia Viteri, University of Maryland/Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)

María Amelia Viteri is Associate Researcher in the Departments of Anthropology at Universidad San Francisco de Quito and University of Maryland. She is author of Desbordes: Translating Racial, Ethnic, Sexual and Gender Identities across the Americas (SUNY Press, 2014) and coauthor of books and special journal issues that include Resentir lo queer en América Latina (Egales, 2014) and Cuir/Queer Americas: Translation, Decoloniality, and the Incommensurable (GLQ, 2021). Her work critically addresses borders, translation, and inequality as mutually constitutive with gender, sexuality, racism, belonging and migrant status, particularly in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.


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How to Cite

Viteri, M. A. (2021). Untranslatable wounds: On colonialidad, cisheteronormativity and biculturalism. Gender and Language, 15(4), 538–548. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.21521



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