Blurred Borders: Transnationalism, Identity, and Cultural Formation

Friday, February 6, 2015
10:30am – 11:45am
Race Conference Room 201, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Yuri Herrera, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University

Sagas of Resistance Versus Acts of Rebellion: Alfredo Véa Jr.’s The Silver Cloud Café as an Attempt Toward “the Beyond”
Cynthia Martinez, Indiana University

“Juxtaposing the real with the fantastical, the narrative world created in Alfredo Véa Jr.’s 1996 novel The Silver Cloud Café explores the contemporary constructs of difference through history, memory, crime, and spirituality. Set primarily in modern-day San Francisco, the novel traverses the borders of space and time through its diverse cast of Mexican, Filipino, Hindu, European and African-American characters. Véa’s semi-autobiographical characters serve as representations of varying categorizations of racial, ethnic, sexual, and physical difference. As each character navigates the complexities of difference both within and outside of the confines of national boundaries and reality itself, the novel seemingly privileges its narrative space of San Francisco’s “Rafael’s Silver Cloud Café” as a place to comfortably perform the difference condemned outside of its confines.
Considering the novel’s thematic treatment of difference, this project seeks to dialogue with current criticism on The Silver Cloud Café that privileges its narrative world as a resistant response to U.S. multiculturalism as an essentializing cultural policy, proposing that the novel offers heterogeneity and hybridity as alternatives. Providing an analysis of the origin and development of the notions of heterogeneity and hybridity, I propose that Véa’s novel, rather than provide a resistant alternative within the confines of the U.S. system of cultural policy, creates rebellious moments existing outside the novel’s mimetic hegemonic system, thereby actualizing and illuminating the very limits present within current negotiations of difference. To this end, through an analysis of the novel’s genre and language, which cannot be contained by easily definable and comprehensible constructs, I suggest that, rather than an idealized heterogeneity, the novel can be aligned more closely to Alberto Moreiras’s notion of savage hybridity, offering an alternative reading to a binarizing resistance.”

Poéticas de emergencia: Rafa Saavedra, nueva ciudadanía e identidad fronteriza
Jorge Ramirez, University of California San Diego

Rafa Saavedra (Tijuana, 1967-2013), creador de la frase “Tijuana Makes me Happy” es autor de una obra narrativa que abarca dos décadas en las cuales los discursos mueven su base de la posmodernidad y el multiculturalismo hasta la necropolítica y el horrorismo. Durante los últimos años del siglo pasado y hasta el día de su muerte Saavedra, a través de su narrativa, generó un ejemplo de identidad fronteriza y promovió un tipo de ciudadanía ejercida desde la periferia. La obra de Rafa Saavedra no ha sido aun muy estudiada por diversas razones de las que destaco el que sus libros fueron publicados en editoriales independientes de poca distribución y el que su obra sea marginal en relación al centro cultural mexicano: la ciudad de México. De igual forma el concepto de ciudadanía fronteriza del norte de México ha representado históricamente un ejercicio complejo que pretendo abordar en mi ponencia. Buten Smiley (1997), Lejos del Noise (2003) y Dios me persigue (2013) son tres de los libros de relatos con los que intentaré trazar un desarrollo de identidad y ciudadanía fronteriza paralelo al intento del Estado mexicano de tomar el control cultural de esta ciudad fronteriza. Poéticas de emergencia son esas herramientas que le permiten a un autor determinado producir desde un espacio y tiempo de conflicto. En el caso de Rafa Saavedra estas poéticas versan desde los nuevos medios hasta la interdisciplinariedad, herramientas determinantes en su creación del imaginario fronterizo. La narrativa de Rafa Saavedra ejemplifica cómo se puede vivir el espacio público tijuanense con las ventajas y desventajas de abordar como escenario esta ciudad de flujos migratorios, y proyectada bajo un sistema neoliberal hacia una elusiva idea de modernidad.

Cinematic Construction of Touristic Voyeurism in Elia Sulieman’s “Diary of a Beginner”
Krista Weirich, Indiana University

Contemporary Havana is often conceptualized as a city in transition, caught in between socialism and the free market, ruins and renovation, splendor and decadence, stasis and change, age and vitality. The foreign eye seems to be perpetually fixed on this urban space, fascinated by the splendor of its ruined architecture, perplexed by the contrasting resilience and resourcefulness of its citizens, and speculative about its future. During the economic crisis of the 1990s, the government instated loosening measures to stimulate the stagnant economy. One of these, the creation of a ministry of tourism in 1994, significantly influenced Cuban cultural production by introducing a pronounced awareness of and interaction with foreign markets and the transnational construction of Cuban identity in this transitional period. The voyeuristic curiosities of foreigners who visited the island inspired widely circulated travelogues, photography books and documentaries that disseminated images of Cuba. Simultaneously, Cuban writers, filmmakers and artists found themselves entering a global market for literature that could reflect the daily Cuban “reality” that seemed so removed from that of the rest of the world. The presence of the tourist and the economic and aesthetic implications of the arrival of the tourist industry to special period Cuba have important implications for Cuban cultural production. In this paper, I analyze Elia Suleiman’s short film Diary of a Beginner, part of the collaborative transnational production 7 días en La Habana, as a transnational response that confronts problematic foreign-produced representations of Cuban identity. By studying the figures of the tourist and foreign photographer in in this short film, I explore how national identity is reconfigured vis-à-vis the foreign gaze and how the urban space of Havana is reimagined against the aesthetic of ruins that characterized much of the foreign cultural production in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Sexual Citizenship: Defining, Defending, and Expressing Sexuality

Saturday, February 7, 2015
1:30pm – 2:45pm
Greenleaf Conference Room, Jones Hall 100A
Moderated by: Dr. Elizabeth Steeby, Department of English, University of New Orleans

Movilh-Ization: Diversidad Collective Action Framing in Santiago’s LGBTI movement
Baird Campbell, Rice University

Santiago, Chile’s capital and home to roughly a third of Chile’s population, has both a longer established and more diverse LGBTQ social movement industry (SMI) than the rest of the country. This paper, thus, will focus specifically on my interviews with leaders from six major LGBTQ rights groups in Santiago: Movilh, MUMS, Acción Gay, Fundación Iguales, CUTS, and OTD.
Movilh presents itself as the oldest LGBTQ rights social movement organization (SMO) in Chile. While it is technically true, today’s Movilh is a different organization than the one originally founded, the latter now referred to by many as “Movilh Histórico.” This conversion from Movilh Histórico to today’s Movilh has created ruptures in Santiago’s LGBTQ SMI. According to my interviews, this rupture is largely due to personal tensions with Rolando Jimenez, Movilh’s current president and one of the initial founders of the group. In general, the activists I interviewed (with the exception of Movilh’s representative, Jaime Parada) bear a notable animosity toward Jimenez.
Through analysis of field interviews, I will assess Movilh’s political legitimacy both in the eyes of the Chilean state and in the eyes of the remaining SMOs that make up Santiago’s LGBTQ social movement industry. Although this SMI has been fragmented for years, its current step into the spotlight has aggravated tensions among the city’s various SMOs. I believe that in the coming years this inter-group dynamic will become increasingly salient as LGBTQ rights gain more traction and political clout in Chile. It is important to begin to understand this SMI now, while it is still in the early stages of societal legitimation. An understanding of the dynamics between Movilh, the government, and the rest of the SMI will be crucial to understanding LGBTQ rights in Chile in the near future.

‘Ni plus, ni moins.’: (Re) Examining Questions of Sexual Citizenship in the French Caribbean
Ryan Joyce, Tulane University

In recent years, the nascent field of Citizenship Studies has been explored, expanded and problematized throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. However, relatively little attention is given to the French Caribbean, and even less to the role and interactions of sexual marginalization and citizenship within and across that space. My project challenges this gap in scholarship by examining representations of marginalized LGBT communities within the French Caribbean surrounding the PaCS (Civil Solidarity Pacts) and same-sex marriage debates. Arguably, these political and social representations force us to reexamine what it actually means to be a “citizen” under the banner of the French republican model of universalism. More specifically, my paper gestures towards the peripheries of the French nation by addressing citizens who are doubly marginalized as sexually and racially inferior subjects. In this context, focusing on the modes of representation in popular print media, or lack thereof, of LGBT minorities in relation with the French métropole helps to frame a wider discussion about the realities of ‘sexual citizens’ in the 21st century. Indeed, rethinking the role of sexual citizenship in the French Caribbean vis-à-vis Europe reveals the contradictions and tensions inherent within the transnational, and trans-Atlantic, constructions of modernity and democracy. Extending the discussion to subaltern LGBT minorities also forces the representations of these groups to be considered and debated in the public sphere. Finally, this issue operates across a wide variety of discourses, ranging from the political, the economic, the social, the cultural, and the historical.

Gender in the City: Reading Judith Butler in Havana
Maile Speakman, Tulane University

A great deal of literature exists on exiled queer Cuban authors like Reinaldo Arenas. However, little research has been done about the theoretical, cultural, and political ties that queer and feminist Cuban authors who live in Cuba have to theorists and writers in the United States. Using historical methods, qualitative interviews, and discourse analysis, I trace the cultural currents that exist between Havana’s queer and feminist authors and gender theorists in the United States. In doing so, I highlight the delayed, fragmented, and localized nature of these exchanges and theorize that the unique temporal space that habanero writers create with North American queer theorists disrupts the logic of globalized cultural imperialism and North American queer hegemony. This analysis is in dialogue with scholars such as Emilio Bejel, Eduardo González, José Quiroga, and Ricardo Ortiz and uses a theoretical framework that includes the work of Michel Foucault, Gloria Anzaldúa, and José Muñoz.

Cartografías queer: Género y sexualidad en una comunidad del México rural
Raziel Valiño, Columbia University

Este trabajo describe como se encontró en el Morelos rural, un amplio y rico terreno donde se mapeo la geografía sexual y el espacio público y privado del pueblo. El análisis principal se ubica en el local de Mario, el que se puede describir como un bar gay al aire libre, ubicado en el centro del pueblo. La loca del pueblo es una figura conocida en el México rural, pero lo que brinda el local de Mario es que las locas y sus amigos se han apropiado y reclamado el centro del pueblo, en donde crean un contra publico queer. Las prácticas nocturnas representadas en los cuerpos y sociabilidad vista en el local de Mario, ubica lo escondido e ilícito en el centro del pueblo. Los espacios públicos queer crean un mundo cuyos contornos son expresivos y afectivos, en lugar de ser creadores de argumentos y opiniones. Este mundo y sus formas de ser mexicano, campesino, hombre y mujer hacen declaraciones publicas que pertenecen en y al pueblo, pero también son practicas de ciudadanía cultural.