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Dr. Roberto Che Espinoza

Dr. Roberto Che Espinoza

Transgender Scholar-Activist, Visiting Professor, Duke Divinity School & named Faith Leader to Watch by the Center for American Progress


Roberto Che Espinoza, PhD is a non-binary trans guy. You may see him referenced by his old name on the internet or on podcasts and books. Please use his current name Roberto Che Espinoza moving forward, thank you! Dr. Roberto is passionate about the politics of radical difference and the ways that our collective differences might shed light on how we become a better body together. Read More >

Roberto Che Espinoza, PhD has been described in a myriad of ways: a scholar-activist, scholar-leader, thought-leader, teacher, public theologian, ethicist, poet of moral reason, and word artist. Among these ways of describing Dr. Roberto, they are also a visionary thinker who has spent two decades working in the borderlands of church, academy, & movements seeking to not only disrupt but dismantle supremacy culture and help steward the logic of liberation as a nonbinary Transqueer Latinx.

Dr. Roberto enfleshes a deep hope of collaborating in these borderland spaces where their work seeks to contribute to the ongoing work of collective liberation. Dr. Roberto is the Founder of the Activist Theology Project, a Nashville based collaborative project that is dedicated to social healing. Dr. Roberto is also on faculty at Duke Divinity School teaching at the intersections of queer theory & theology/ethics. Dr. Roberto was named 1 of 10 Faith Leaders to watch by the Center for American Progress in 2018. He has been featured in fashion magazines and appeared on many different podcasts, including Pete Holmes’ You Made it Weird.

As a scholar-activist, Dr. Roberto is committed to translating theory to action, so that our work in the borderlands reflect the deep spiritual work of transforming self to transforming the world. As the Founder of the Activist Theology Project, Dr. Roberto is committed to the work of social healing through the politicizing of public theology initiatives, and writes & creates both academic & other valuable resources, including digital resources. Dr. Roberto is a non-binary Transman; Latinx; and, adult on the Autism spectrum who calls Nashville, TN home. They are the author of Activist Theology, 2019, published by Fortress Press and Body Becoming: A Path to Our Liberation, published by Broadleaf Press 2022. Dr. Roberto’s next book-length project focusses on Belonging & Freedom. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

Decolonizing Pedagogies: Transforming Teaching: Creating Expanded Capacity for our Classrooms

Our current educational system relies on passive learning that often results in data dumping. This kind of pedagogical practice centralizes one expert and accelerates dangerous hierarchies within teaching and learning. When we re-imagine the classroom as a space and place to decolonize our pedagogies, we also participate in the transformation of teaching. This results in accelerating the ongoing building an expanded capacity for those who make up our classroom spaces. Teaching is more than a data dump; it is a process of tending to all the threads of instructional design and when we leave room for embodied awareness and expanding our capacity through a somatic lens, we not only connect the dots and deepen our shared, collective analysis, but we also become aware of our embodied capacity. When we intentionally bring these two together, we effectively participate in decolonizing practices that helps us all make a hard pivot out of hierarchies that accelerate harm and diminish transformative learning.

Building Networks of Trust within White Serving Institutions

While Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are all important, we must also recognize that DEI work is not enough. The work of composting supremacy culture is a marathon and necessitates Networks of Trust, but these networks have rapidly declined due to the machinations of supremacy culture. We must work to build Networks of Trust within our institutions and systems, so that we can implement DEI into our communities, and so that we can see the material consequence of our DEI efforts. When we rehabilitate Networks of Trust, we are better able to live into an ethos that can expand to include DEI efforts. Without Networks of Trust, we run the risk of tokenizing our diversity hires and subjecting BIPOC folks to a system where they are unable to flourish.

The Intersections of Queer Justice & Anti-Racism

This topic addresses the overwhelming logic of whiteness in our LGBTQ movements and helps us imagine a way to do queer justice work that amplifies those at the margins of the margins & displaces the logic of dominance.

Displacing Whiteness

This can be a 101, 201, 301 or more advanced workshop that helps folks begin talking about whiteness and the need to displace whiteness to helping faith communities and organizations to imagine restructuring their organizational frames by using anti-oppression methodologies and power analysis.

Gender Justice as Human Rights Work

Important to gender justice is the need to examine the ways our religious discourse (theologies and ethics) stabilize gender into an antiquated gender binary. I help communities rethink our gender justice through storytelling and helping folks use their imagination to connect our stories of gender and our expressions to a larger human rights framework.

Constellations of Difference: Rethinking Intersectionality

How do make sense with difference in today’s world? How do we bridge with the radical differences that we encounter in our communities, schools, or churches? How do we explore our call to serve our communities when the world around us discourages us from bridging with the radical differences that we encounter on a daily basis? By coming to a better understanding of the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, citizenship, and other differences that we encounter, we can better be equipped to imagine a call to serve our communities from the place of bridging with radical difference. This workshop uses theories and methods of the philosophy of difference to rethink intersectionality.

Bridging with Difference

Using storytelling, how can we learn to bridge with the center of our own difference in an effort to build bridging with difference around us? How can bridging with difference be a catalyst for us to be unified in our deepest differences?