I am thrilled to see that this edited book is coming out now. What began as a series of panels at the LASA Congress in Chicago in 2016 has now transformed into an edited collection that brings together activists, artists, and academics around some of the most pressing issues regarding gender and sexual citizenship in Latin America.
Estoy muy emocionado de ver que sale ahora este libro editado. Lo que comenzó como una serie de mesas en el Congreso LASA Chicago del 2016 se ha transformado en una colección editada que junta a activistas, artistas y academicxs alrededor de algunos de los temas más urgentes sobre el papel del género y la ciudadanía sexual en América Latina.
This isn’t so much a novel about bodies, but a novel that embodies. Whitehead places the reader as witness of the carnal embodiment of queer desire as it attaches to tendrils of cigarette smoke, sweat, memory, and fantasy. It is a text that lingers.
The feeling that stuck with me as I finished the book was that of being taken apart. As if pieces of me were left there, on a page that lingered with lingering itself.
When the narrator, Jonny, mused: “Funny how an NDN ‘love you’ sounds more like, ‘I’m in pain with you’,” I cried. I cried remembering what colonialism does to bodies over generations. It is a way of talking about intergenerational trauma that recognizes the constitutive foundation of modern indigeneity as one of pain, loss, and love in spite of. The novel dwells on the pain of loss and loss foretold, of seeking, and eventually finding, but not knowing if what is found was actually what was sought.
This isn’t so much a novel about resistance, but about how much the body can bear. The imagery depends on contrasts of neglect and glimmering promise; scars and celestial reflection, the orgasmic immediacy of a now that can only exist as promise.
Get the text here
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I had the chance to review Vinodh Venkatesh‘s 2015 book The Body as Capital: Masculinities in Contemporary Latin American Fiction for Hispanófila. The review is now out, and I’d encourage anyone interested in how neoliberalism is affecting what counts as a ‘body’ in contemporary Latin American life to check out his book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Here is the first paragraph of my review:
Recent shifts toward austerity and isolationism, the renegotiation of global hierarchies, and ongoing conflicts over territories, markets, and ideologies make the neoliberal era one of material and symbolic uncertainty. In The Body as Capital, Venkatesh interrogates neoliberalism’s pervasive (and often pernicious) influence on Latin American cultural production, focusing on literary works that reimagine the gendered dynamics of labor and desire since the 1990s. In particular, Venkatesh theorizes the male body as capitalize-able within a neoliberal episteme that encompasses not just market-based economic policies, but also regimes of sexuality, gender, and aesthetics. Eleven chapters divided into three parts provide a comprehensive overview of the ideological, discursive, and corporal reconfigurations that characterize the work of authors Venkatesh refers to as Generation Alfaguara. A far-reaching monograph, The Body as Capital serves as a prime example of how Latin American Studies is producing work that grapples with the cultural and political shifts of contemporary life and which pushes humanistic scholarship to respond to calcified methods of critical inquiry.
Download the rest here.
Or at: Hispanófila 181 (December 2017): 213-215.
At the end of the spring 2018 semester a student asked me why there were no courses at Stony Brook University specifically focused on Latinas. I thought for a second, but I didn’t have an answer. I knew that the university has declined on several occasions to fund a cluster hire in Latino/a Studies. I knew that we have one scholar, historian Lori Flores, who focuses specifically on Latina and Latino labor, migration, and the Farmworker Movement. I knew that she had taught the history of Latinos in the US. I also knew that other colleagues had taught on issues of immigration and incarceration, transnational feminisms, and Queer of Color critique. But to my knowledge there has never been a course at SBU specifically dedicated to studying the culture, artistic expression, and literature of Latinas and Latinxs in the US. So, I’m taking this as a challenge. I want to design a course that centers Latina and Latinx writers, artists, musicians, and activists, and I want it to also be responsive to the current moment in which pressing issues of intersectionality, immigration, DACA, incarceration, deportation, and ongoing racist structures of coloniality provide a framework for revising curricular offerings. It is an activist intervention, a corrective, but one that has come from student demand, rather than faculty. And that is the cool part, really. I’ll post the syllabus when I have it ready, but for now, here is a flyer I made to advertise the course. Fall 2018.
Critical Ethnic Studies is a journal that I really love. They have a great team, publish new and established voices, are run by folks of color, have a slick social media presence (this is the first time I’ve been ‘quoted’ as in the image above), and encourage ethical citation practices (what more could you ask for). I was so happy to have had an essay published in their fall 2017 general issue, “Adopted: Trace, Blood, and Native Authenticity.” The article expands on some of my initial thoughts from summer 2015, “In Search of an Authentic Indian: Notes on the Self,” and stages a more nuanced theoretical discussion of “authenticity”. I’m looking forward to continuing this line of research, and book project #2 is likely to take this essay as its point of departure. More to come.
Fall 2017 Graduate Seminar
Thirst: Sex and Being
This course will investigate diverse ways of desiring, sexuality, and being. It is about the appetites that populate our lives—on which we depend for survival—, as well as those that have inspired historical moments of conflict. Thirst in this course is as much about lived experiences of desire as it is about historical structures of race, class, gender, and colonialism. Our inquiry into this thirst will focus on 19th and 20th century Latin American prose, and will also incorporate thirsty queer texts from both the US and Latin America. The thirst is real.
In a moment when the Latino population is under constant threat, threat of violence, deportation, xenophobia, racism, misrepresentation, etc., I am glad to be able to teach a course on US Latino Lit and Culture. The guiding theme is #Resistance. What I mean by that is resistance to the facile categorizations, the stereotypes, the dismissals, the violence, the fixity of identity that allows Latino to become an ‘other’ identity, an identity based on an ‘otherness’ that it never really was and which it currently resists. Below is a link to the syllabus. (Spring 2018)
(Julio Salgado, “Screaming Joto”)