Viviane Namaste

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Viviane K. Namaste is a Canadian feminist professor. Her research focuses on health and sex work.[1]


Namaste received a BA from Carleton University in 1989, an MA in Sociology from York University, and a doctoral degree from Université du Québec à Montréal in Semiotics and Linguistics.[2][3] She worked within ACT UP Paris.[3] In 2001, she received the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for her book titled, Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People.[4] That same year, Namaste was also a director in the documentary Madame Lauraine's Transsexual Touch which deals with transsexual sex workers as well as sexual health and clientele.[5]

Namaste became an associate professor and the Research Chair in HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[4] In 2009, she received the "Canadian Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights", awarded jointly by the HIV Legal Network and Human Rights Watch.[6]

In 2013, she was called as an official intervenor in a hearing at the Supreme Court of Canada[7] on whether the ban on solicitation, prohibition of brothels and criminality of making a living from prostitution violates the Charter of Rights.[8]

The feminist journal, Hypatia, has called Namaste's work, "extremely important".[9] Namaste considers activism more important than work within the humanities.[10]

Published works[edit]

Imprimés interdits : La censure des journaux jaunes au Québec, 1955-1975

In post-war Quebec, a new form of popular communication emerged: the "yellow newspapers", so named because of the poor quality of their paper. They contained all the gossip about artists, cabarets and nightlife, with content strongly dominated by sexuality.[11]

Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People

Invisible Lives evaluates the erasure of transgender individuals by medical psychiatry.[12] It also draws on the daily lived-experiences of transgendered individuals and describes how their identity permeates every facet of their life from obtaining housing to health care.[12] The Library Journal wrote that Invisible Lives has "broken new ground with one of the first sociological studies of the TS/TG community."[12]

Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions, and Imperialism

This book utilizes case studies as a means to analyze elements such as human rights and prostitution in looking at transsexual politics in Quebec and Canada. Namaste asks what makes someone a woman and whether male to female transsexuals should be included in women's spaces.[9] Namaste also explores how gender and sex are defined in our culture and discusses the everyday manner in which transsexuals face discrimination.[13] In the end, she recommends that feminists "integrate transsexual politics and theory into their work."[9] One criticism that the journal, Hypatia, makes of the writing in Sex Change, Social Change is that Namaste is "at times antagonistic towards transsexual and transgender activists and theorists who work within gay, lesbian, or queer frameworks."[9] Canadian Dimension writes that her book makes the subject matter "accessible to those unacquainted with the current body of work on transsexuality."[13]

C'était du spectacle! L'histoire des artistes transsexuelles à Montréal, 1955-1985

This book explores the lives of fourteen transsexual cabaret dancers.[14] By discussing how transsexuals and transvestites were largely responsible for cabaret's culture.[14] Looking at the social changes that occurred in the 60's and 70's in Quebec, this book examines working conditions for these cabaret dancers as well as police abuse of power.[14]


  1. ^ "On Women, Vice and Vagrancy in Canada". Walrus TV. 2015-01-29. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  2. ^ "Dr. Viviane Namaste - Faculty of Arts and Science - Concordia University - Montreal, Quebec, Canada". Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  3. ^ a b Burnett, Richard (20 August 2009). "Hot Shots: Professor Viviane Namaste: Viviane Namaste". Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Hour Community. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "2009 Canadian Recipient: Viviane Namaste". Toronto, Ontario, Canada: AIDs Law Canada. 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Madame Lauraine's Transsexual Touch". cinema politica. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  6. ^ Syms, Shawn (12 July 2009). "Trans academic wins human rights award". Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Daily Xtra. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Montreal prof seeks Supreme Court ruling on sex work". Montreal, Quebec, Canada: CBC News. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  8. ^ la Reine, Bedford C. (13 June 2013). "Procès: décriminalisation de la prostitution à l'ordre du jour". Montreal, Quebec, Canada: La Presse. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d Hale, C. Jacob (2008). "Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions, and Imperialism". Hypatia. 23 (1): 204–207. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  10. ^ Crawford, Lucas (2009). "Re-Fashioning the Architectonics of Gender". ESC: English Studies in Canada. 35 (2): 18–23. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  11. ^ Septentrion, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c Ingram, Jeff (November 2000). "Invisible Lives (Book Review)". Library Journal. 125 (18): 120. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  13. ^ a b Poole, Katherine M. (2008). "Getting Past Identity: A Fresh Look at Issues in Transsexuality". Canadian Dimension. 42 (6): 42. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  14. ^ a b c Boisclair, Isabelle (2008). "C'était du spectacle. L'histoire des artistes transsexuelles à Montréal 1955-1985 (review)". University of Toronto Quarterly (in French). 77 (1): 639–641. doi:10.1353/utq.0.0002. S2CID 162356969.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brandt, Keri Jacqueline (2003). "Book Review: Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. By Viviane K. Namaste. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000. Postcolonial and Queer Theories: Intersections and Essays. By John C. Hawley (Ed.) Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001". Qualitative Sociology. 26 (1): 137–143. doi:10.1023/A:1021416423075. S2CID 141328153.
  • Elliot, Patricia (2012). Debates in Transgender, Queer, and Feminist Theory: Contested Sites. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4094-9279-5.
  • Johnson, Katherine (2011). "Transgender, Transsexualism, and the Queering of Gender Identities: Debates for Feminist Research". In Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber (ed.). Handbook of Feminist Research: Theory and Praxis. SAGE Publications. pp. 606–626. ISBN 978-1-4833-4145-3.