Alberto Fierro joins the Democracy Institute

June 27, 2022

DSPS alumnus Alberto Fierro (International Relations track, 2022) is one of the 9 new fellows who are joining the CEU Democracy Institute (DI) in the framework of the CEU Budapest-OSUN Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

Alberto defended his dissertation “In the Struggle for Radical Knowledge: Autoethnography and Collective Militant Research with the MTST – Homeless Workers’ Movement” in March, 2022.

The dissertation is an innovative reading together of decolonial theorising and whiteness studies. It draws on autoethnography to narrate and reflect upon the encounters between the colonial subject position of the gringo ethnographer and the colonized subject positions of racialised, classed and gendered workers organized in the Brazilian Homeless Workers’ Movement. It painstakingly documents the productive powers of such bodily encounters taking place in the collective spaces of an occupation in enabling members of privileged groups to acknowledge ways of thinking, saying and doing that reproduce social hierarchies and structural oppression in the everyday. It carefully shows how the entanglement of self and other, dominant researcher and subaltern research subjects, who gather in close proximity and carry out ritualised performances of resistance, enables Western activist scholars to overcome the psycho-affective and relational obstacles that stand in the way of the emergence of transformative and liberating relations between them and their subaltern research subjects. Recognising that the genre of autoethnography keeps the author at the centre of the story even as its foregrounds relationality, the dissertation ends by laying out how the autoethnographic project of decolonising research can be extended into collective activist research in which knowledge cultivation exceeds the boundaries of the established identity categories of academic research and the lived experiences of grassroots struggles.

During his fellowship, Alberto will continue his research with the MTST and will collaborate with Diana Correal (Universidad de los Andes).