Questioning and Listening

An Attempt to Investigate Voinha’s Migration Journey


  • Iury Salustiano Trojaborg



In this essay I analyze how the artifacts of questioning and listening became resourceful in the procedure of excavating the personal and political reasons behind the migration journey my maternal grandmother Voinha (who turned 100 years old on April 08th 2021 and passed away on March 06th 2022) embarked on in 1945 from Ananindeua and Belém (Amazon rainforest region) to Rio de Janeiro (BR); and further, my own immigration journey from Latin America to the Middle East and on to northern Europe, fifteen years ago. How coupling questioning with listening allowed an oppressed woman to speak for herself, fostering in this way dramaturgies that brought awareness to feminist empowerment as a means to tackle the colonial and patriarchal ways in which the Brazilian national identity, among many others, is constructed.

The writing style is mainly anecdotal and based on conversations I had with Voinha on different occasions. The recordings of our last in-person encounter on September 15th 2018 became the foundation for the performance Feliz Aniversário, created primarily as a way of giving Voinha agency in telling her own migration journey. Excerpts of this audio and video footage will be further analyzed alongside this essay. 

The methodology adopted is autoethnography with the intention to offer nuanced, complex, and specific knowledge about particular lives, experiences and relationships (Adams, Jones, Ellis 2014). Within autoethnographical methodological tools, I delve on reflexivity with the aim of troubling the relationship between researchers ‘selves’ and ‘others’ and offering a re-examination of the paradigm modernity/coloniality as simultaneously shaped through specific articulations of race, gender and sexuality (Lugones 2007). The final intention is to analyze how turning back to my ancestors’ and my own experiences, identities, and their socio-political implications; how analyzing them according to gender and queer theories and from a decolonial perspective, could potentialize my current practice focused on autobiographical performance.

One last important point to be acknowledged is my role as an artist-researcher examining the complex ethical and creative processes of working with intimate family memories, observing the growing necessity of developing dramaturgies of care and resistance (Malzacher 2008).

Author Biography

Iury Salustiano Trojaborg

Artist-researcher / Doctoral candidate
Lund University


Adams, Tony E.; Jones, Stacy Holmes; Ellis, Carolyn. (2014). Autoethnography: Understanding Qualitative Research. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Austin, J. L. (1962). How To Do Things With Words. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Bourne, Richard (1974). Getúlio Vargas of Brazil, 1883-1954: Sphinx of the Pampas. London, England: C. Knight.

Butler, Judith. (1993). Bodies that Matter. New York: Routledge Classics.

Butler, Judith. (1997). Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge.

Calafell, Bernadette Marie. (2013). (I)dentities: Considering Accountability, Reflexivity, and Intersectionality in the I and the We. In: Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, vol. 9, no. 2 (pp. 6-13).

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, issue 1, article 8. (pp. 138-167).

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. (2000). Anti-Oedipus. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.

Ellis, Carolyn; Bochner, Arthur P. (2000). Autoethnography, Personal Narrative, Reflexivity: Researcher as Subject. In: N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (eds.). Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd Ed.), Sage Publications (pp. 733-768).

Grosz, Elizabeth. (1994). Volatile bodies: Toward a corporeal feminism. Indianapolis: University of Indiana Press.

Gurminder, K. Bhambra. (2014). Postcolonial and Decolonial Dialogues. Postcolonial Studies 17(2) (pp. 115-121).

Hall, Stuart. (1994). Cultural Identity and Diaspora. In: Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman, Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf (pp.227-237).

Haraway, Donna. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. in: Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3 (pp.575-599).

Hartmann, Heidi. (1979). The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a more Progressive Union. Capital & Class 3(2) (pp. 1-33).

Lehmann, Hans-Thies. (1999). Postdramatisches Theater. Frankfurt am Main: Verlag der Autoren, 1999.

Lugones, María. (2007). Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System. Hypatia 22(1) (pp. 186-209).

Malzacher, Florian. (2008). Dramaturgies of Care and Insecurity. In: Malzacher, Florian and Dreysse, Miriam (eds). Experts of the Everyday: The Theatre of Rimini Protokoll. Berlin: Alexander Verlag.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. (2004). The World of Perception, New York: Routledge.

Pollock, Della. (2006). Memory, Remembering and Histories of Change. In: D. Soyini Madison and Judith Hamera (eds). SAGE Handbook of Performance Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Puar, Jaspir. (2011). I Would Rather be a Cyborg than a Goddess. Intersectionality, Assemblage, and Affective Politics.

Sardenberg, Cecilia M.B.; Costa, Ana Alice Alcântara. (2017). State Feminism and Women's Movements in Brazil: Achievements, Shortcomings and Challenges. In: Basu, Amrita (ed.). Women's Movements in the Global Era: The Power of Local Feminisms. Boulder: Westview Press.

Siegmund, Gerald. (2006). Abwesenheit. Eine performative Ästhetik des Tanzes. William Forsythe, Jérome Bel, Xavier Le Roy, Meg Stuart. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. (1988). Can the Subaltern Speak? In: Nelson, Cary and Lawrence Grossberg (eds.) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. London: Macmillan (pp. 24-28).

Tronto, Joan C. (1998). An Ethic of Care. Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging 22(3) (pp.15-20).




How to Cite

Salustiano Trojaborg, I. (2023). Questioning and Listening: An Attempt to Investigate Voinha’s Migration Journey. PlaySpace (PS) , 2(1), 71–77.