Identity in Art: Constructions and Negotiations of Race

Friday, February 6, 2015
10:30am – 11:45am
Rechler Conference Room, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Mia Bagneris, Department of Art History, Tulane University

The Other Shore: reviewing the exodus of Cuban visual artist within the Mariel boatlift
Jimena Codina, Tulane University

In 1980, between the months of April and October, about 125,000 Cubans emigrated legally from Cuba to the United States through the port of Mariel. This event impacted not only the history of Cuba but also the history of Cuban immigration, and the relations between the United States and the island. Among the thousands of Cubans who emigrated, many were artists: writers, musicians, and visual artists (mainly painters). Some of these visual artists became visible in the context of galleries, art exhibitions and journals in the United States, specifically in Miami. Despite the differences in the background and scope of these artists, and despite the contrasts in their respective careers once they emigrated to the United States, they were bound together by the common experience of immigration to the U.S. through Mariel, they all came to form the Generation of Mariel, and this, in turn, impacted the content of their work and their artistic career. Considering the processes and effects of the Mariel boat-lift on the Cuban artist community will help to understand better the intersection of grand historical processes and the production of culture, and how these artists negotiate both the grand historical narratives and their own migratory experiences through their work.

100 Years of Lies: Images of Brazil’s Unified Black Movement
Briana Royster, Ohio University

Using posters created by Afro-Brazilian activists in 1988, this presentation will provide a preliminary investigation into the U.S. influences on the Unified Black Movement (MNU), while revealing Brazil’s unique history of race relations and how activists captured that history within its political posters. Scholars have studied the U.S. Civil Rights Movement from many perspectives, including its leaders, the role of women and students, and its place as a catalyst for later movements in the U.S. like the Women’s Rights Movement and the Chicano Movement. Less studied are the transnational effects of the Civil Rights Movement in other countries such as Brazil. Brazil and the United States have a history of cross-cultural exchange, one that includes the social and political movements of people of African descent. African American activists in the United States were one inspiration for the Unified Black Movement (MNU) during the last quarter of the twentieth century in Brazil. Brazil’s contemporary black movement began in the 1970s in an effort to end the myth of Brazil as a “racial democracy.” A key component to the MNU’s strategy involved visually representing the importance of black heritage and culture. With a reliance on their rich African history and images from the US Black Power Movement, Afro-Brazilian activists created posters and artwork to foster a consciousness about the racial problems in Brazil. Although motivated by what they saw in the United States, activists also remained aware of many other movements, including African independence movements. The MNU developed an artistic campaign unique to Brazil’s history of racial hegemony and worked diligently to improve the conditions of Afro-Brazilians. Using interviews and artwork (mostly in the form of posters) this presentation will elaborate on the similarities and differences between the two sets of images, giving rise to an analysis of the movements themselves.

Dissecting Identity through Dissolution: Guillermo Gomez-Pena and the Performance of the Poetic Overstatement
Alexandra Santana, Tulane University

The purpose of this project is to examine how contemporary performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña uses a mixture of invented language and aesthetic media as deconstructive instruments in his artwork in order to question rigid notions of social identity. The project is also an examination of his use of the internet as an aesthetic medium, both literally and figuratively, in his performances. The use of the non-identity (or anonymity) of a digitized subject in his work allows for a more reflective examination of subaltern and marginalized social identities, and thus provides a possible space for the mobilization of marginalized artistic audiences. More specifically, however, I question if the conceptual fracture of social identity through digital means truly attempts to “fight against cultural, artistic, and political isolationism”? (La Pocha Nostra) Through a formal analysis of several key performances, I argue that Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s use of an imagined, yet recognizable poetic cyberlanguage dissolves the borders, both physical and intangible, between traditional boundaries of cyberculture and social identity.

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.