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Performing the US Latina and Latino Borderlands

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In this interdisciplinary volume, contributors analyze the expression of Latina/o cultural identity through performance. With music, theater, dance, visual arts, body art, spoken word, performance activism, fashion, and street theater as points of entry, contributors discuss cultural practices and the fashoning of identity in Latino/a communities throughout the US. Examining the areas of crossover between Latin and American cultures gives new meaning to the notion of "borderlands." This volume features senior scholars and up-and-coming academics from cultural, visual, and performance studies, folklore, and ethnomusicology.

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Introduction Toward a De-Colonial Performatics of the US Latina and Latino Borderlands

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CHELA SANDOVAL, ARTURO J. ALDAMA, AND PETER J. GARCÍA

Latinas and Latinos represent the largest and fastest-growing ethnic community in the United States after “non-Hispanic” Whites (14 percent of the US population, approximately 55 million people in 2010).1 Yet the cultural impact of US Latina and Latino aesthetic production has yet to be fully recognized within the US nation-state and beyond. This book moves beyond the by now de-politicized and all-too-familiar cultural theory of the twentieth century and beyond so-called “radicalized” examples of aesthetic production to unravel how culture is performance. Moreover, the following chapters travel beyond the linguistic surfaces and aesthetic limitations of “Latina and Latino” cultural production to reveal the less familiar and unexplored performance terrains of the “Borderlands.” Indeed, Performing the US Latina and Latino Borderlands is a book that challenges readers to engage those profound intercultural, psychic, social, and transnational effects that are being generated through US Latina and Latino testimonio, theater, ceremony, ritual, storytelling, music, dance, improvisation, play, nagualisma-o, call-and-response, spoken-word, visual, body, digital, and sculptural enactments. Each contributing author introduces readers to performance topics, performing artists, and performative enactments that comprise the field of Borderlands Performance Studies. This field is identifiable through its commitment to an alter-Native cultural engineering, the technologies of which we editors identify as “de-colonizing performatics,” and the mestizaje, the hybridity, the bricolage, the rasquache interventions organized around de-colonization that we call “perform-antics.” Join us then as we set the academic stage where complex scholarly engagements are linked with the entertaining, enlightening, and emancipatory aesthetics of Borderlands Performance Studies.2

 

1 Body as Codex-ized Word / Cuerpo Como Palabra (en-)Códice-ado: Chicana/Indígena and Mexican Transnational Performative Indigeneities Micaela Díaz-Sánchez

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MICAELA DÍAZ-SÁNCHEZ

In the performance work of Mexican actress, writer, and director Jesusa Rodríguez and Chicana/Tepehuana1 painter / installation artist / performance artist Celia Herrera-Rodríguez, the body functions as the critical site for the (de)construction of national and Indigenous identities. The corporeal operates as the primary signifier in the reclamation of denied histories. Through the self-consciously performative style of cabaret and espectáculo (spectacle), Jesusa Rodríguez monumentalizes México’s Indigenous histories as she employs discourse central to Mexican national identity and cultural citizenship. Celia Herrera-Rodríguez enacts Indigeneity as intimate ritual and positions her work as personal historical recovery and pedagogy aimed at creating dialogue among Indigenous communities on a global level. Their aesthetic methodologies are mediated by multifarious contradictions, colonial epistemologies, and discursive strategies for survival. In the critical recognition and negotiation of these refractory mediations, performance functions as an embodied attempt at reclamation of Indigenous narratives, in and out of the “nation.”

 

2 Milongueando Macha Homoerotics: Dancing the Tango, Torta Style (a Performative Testimonio)

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MARIA LUGONES

I have spent most of my life thinking up close to and in the middle of people, people to people. Recently I have been looking at the need to rethink gender in a historical and global manner so that one could no longer separate gender, class, sexuality, and race but could not think of them as intersecting, either. The relation of intersection still requires conceptually separable entities, categories. Today I said to myself, “Let’s think about the tango with these things in mind and see what I can make of it without losing a sense of the erotic.”

I am someone with an intimate connection with tango style, music, dance, lyrics, its lived geography, both from within circles of affection and from within the moving anonymous encounters of the street, the milongas, tango bars like chapels where one listens to someone sing, getting in touch with the sacred within pain. I am also a witness to the development of tango tourism.

Robert Duval, an american tango aficionado and a self-proclaimed authority on the tango, confuses it with a dance and finds its attraction in the impression that “here is a people that know that men are men and women are women and are not all embarrassed about it,” a claim he makes with a great sense of pride of having found a people so close to his own sensibilities. By this he means that men lead—on the floor of life as it were—and women follow, in a debased sense of the word. The tango for him is a dance understood to be a quintessentially heterosexual performance of the active/submissive understanding of masculinity/ femininity. No sexual ambiguities, thus no ambiguities about agency. I want to think about the logic of tango here as a more complex phenomenon than the one tango tourism sells.

 

3 The Other Train That Derails Us: Performing Latina Anxiety Disorder in “The Night before Christmas”

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ANGIE CHABRAM-DERNERSESIAN

Anxiety is an activation of our senses and our physical readiness so we can assess our surroundings or look for dangers—and so we can be more ready to run or fight. Like the flashing red lights and crossing guards that come down over a railroad track when the train—still miles away—goes over a switch.

DR. J., “ANXIETY, PRACTICALLY SPEAKING

After a hard day’s work, Doña Elena sits down to watch her favorite telenovela, armed with a piping hot cup of café con leche (coffee with milk) and her favorite pan dulce (pastry). She has much company in this much-awaited daily ritual, according to transnational studies of Spanish media culture (see, e.g., LaPastina n.d.).1 Across Latina/o America, viewers of Spanish-language television—men, women, and children alike—join her in savoring yet another installment of this hugely popular televisual genre.

In this particular instance, not long after a reprise of the previous day’s melodramatic plot line, Doña Elena’s television ritual is rudely interrupted by a program change. In a programmed announcement, Doña Elena and her fellow viewers are met head-on with the image of a larger-than-life train that threatens to barrel out of control, lunging out of the small screen and engulfing their bodies, spirits, and home spaces. The burning light of the train offers no escape from televisual darkness or human entrapment. Viewers are thus caught unawares, somehow right in front of the path of the monumental, horrific train, provoking a primal urge to flee or seek protection—what therapists call the “flight syndrome.”2

 

4 The Art of Place: The Work of Diane Gamboa

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KAREN MARY DAVALOS

In 2008, Southern California witnessed its first major “post-ethnic” art exhibition in Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement.1 Building on the performances and visual arts of Asco, the Los Angeles–based collective originally composed of Harry Gamboa, Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón, and Patssi Valdez, the exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) intended to challenge conventional parameters of Chicana/o art and offer one strategy for interpreting conceptual art produced by artists who came of age after the Chicano Movement. Co-curators Rita Gonzalez, Howard Fox, and Chon Noriega posit that the temporal curatorial model of art produced after something allowed them “the freedom to follow an idea, rather than represent a constituency.”2 Interestingly, the show was simultaneously a complete success and a dramatic failure. Ticket sales evidence that it was overwhelmingly popular, breaking LACMA attendance records. Yet local artists and critics found the exhibition lacking. They hosted several public discussions, generated hundreds of blog posts, and published articles in regional and national media to address the show’s historical, aesthetic, and positional errors. Some critics responded by producing their own exhibitions performed as errata that offered a corrective vision of Chicana/o art in Los Angeles.3

 

5 Human Rights, Conditioned Choices, and Performance in Ana Castillo’s Mixquihuala Letters

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CARL GUTIÉRREZ-JONES

An acclaimed poet known for combining protest themes and formal experiment, Ana Castillo became part of a new wave of Chicana fiction writing with the publication of her 1986 novel Mixquiahuala Letters. Like her poetry, the novel is particularly striking for its formal play and especially its attention to narrative structure. Mimicking Julio Cortazar’s novel Rayuela (1963), Castillo presents her reader with various choices regarding how to participate in the text’s construction, soliciting a self-conscious performance that resonates with inquiries regarding the nature of choice—how choices are recognized and conditioned—by characters in the novel. Specifically, Castillo divides Mixquiahula Letters into numbered chapters, then invites readers to restructure the order of the original presentation along certain suggested paths (paths that reorder the letters, sometimes omitting certain letters). For Cortazar, the announced goal was to distinguish active from passive reading, a distinction that he infamously coded in explicitly sexist terms—male reading equated with active interpretation, female reading equated with passive capitulation. (To his credit, Cortazar offered an apology for this formulation later in his career.) Castillo playfully appropriates this narrative territory in order to flip Cortazar’s initial sexual politics on its head: in Mixquiahuala Letters, responsible, engaged reading and the construction of understanding itself inevitably partake of a Chicana feminist critical analysis informed by the human rights movement.

 

6 Decolonizing Gender Performativity: A Thesis for Emancipation in Early Chicana Feminist Thought (1969–1979)

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DAPHNE V. TAYLOR-GARCÍA

In the early twenty-first century, our visual field is still gendered by colonial/racial dynamics. Many of the first Chicana feminist writers foregrounded an analysis of colonization in their evaluation of the struggles of contemporary US women of color, directly connecting the 1960s uprisings in the United States to those in the Caribbean, South America, Africa, China, and more. Pathbreaking documents written by Chicana feminists in the 1970s that grappled with intersectional injustices and the challenge of exposing the stifling role of racialized gender dynamics illuminated a consistent connection between colonialism and contemporary struggles.1

Bernice Rincón’s 1971 piece titled “La Chicana: Her Role in the Past and Her Search for a New Role in the Future” encapsulated the sentiment of a generation caught between revolutionary action, on the one hand, and culturally sedimented expectations of being “women,” on the other. Rincón wrote,

 

7 Performing Indigeneity in a South Texas Community: Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz Norma E. Cantú

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NORMA E. CANTÚ

It’s a brisk morning in early March 2009 in San Antonio, Texas, and the annual women’s march celebrating International Women’s Day is about to begin. We will march past the Alamo, past San Fernando Cathedral, past the hotels and businesses with early morning tourists and local patrons. The march will go from Travis Park to Milam Park—Anglo names for spaces that in the old days were called “plazas.” A young girl no older than twelve, dressed in a long brown cotton skirt and a red blouse with a red headband across her forehead, holds an eagle feather. She will do a water blessing before the march begins. Her father, who also has a red headband and is wearing a white cotton shirt and pants, beats a flat drum solemnly. The crowd of a couple of hundred people hushes solemnly and listens to her soft song. She dips the feather in water and sprinkles the ground. Some of us face the four directions as she sings her blessing prayer in a language we don’t understand. Could it be Coahuiltecan? That was how Fabiola, one of the organizers, introduced her—as a member of the Coahuiltecan nation. But pretty much all vestiges of the many dialects of that language that were spoken in South Texas for centuries are gone. Erased. Only scraps survive, mostly in old prayer books; the Christian prayers used to indoctrinate the native people paradoxically remain as testaments of the old language. As a child, I went to “la doctrina” to learn the Catholic prayers—in Spanish, of course. But I also went to see the matachines dance to the beat of the drum. In this chapter, I focus on the latter, the folk religious dance tradition of los matachines, as I interrogate the indigenous identity we as Chican@s identify and disidentify with in the particular area of South Texas.

 

8 Re-Membering Chelo Silva: The Bolero in Chicana Perspective (Women’s Bodies and Voices in Postrevolutionary Urbanization: The Bohemian, Urban, and Transnational) Yolanda Broyles-González

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YOLANDA BROYLES-GONZÁLEZ

Chelo Silva, the prominent borderlands singer whose fame extended from the United States to México and all of Latin America and the Caribbean, was born Consuelo Silva on August 22, 1922, in the small border town of Brownsville, Texas, across from the neighboring Mexican town of Matamoros. Silva came from a working-class family, and she showed an early inclination toward song performance. While working as a sales clerk in Brownsville in her early teens, she began to earn local notoriety by virtue of her beautiful singing voice. By the 1950s, she had earned immortality across the Américas as a beloved interpreter of the musical song type known as the “bolero.” In fact, her recordings circulate today more than those of Agustín Lara.

Given the urbanite and internationalist nature of her song repertoire, her millions of fans outside of Texas do not generally associate her with the Texas borderlands that are her homeland. Not surprisingly, music—in its ability to migrate—resembles the flight of birds and the movement of wind and water; it cannot always be tied to physical geographies. Thus we might ask, Did Chelo Silva arise from an existing Tejana musical tradition? And do Chelo Silva and Lydia Mendoza serve as a foundation to other Tejana musicians? In another paper, I refer to Silva and Mendoza as the yin and yang of what can very loosely be called “Tejana music.” They rose to prominence by very different trajectories of borderlands song performance. Lydia Mendoza’s musical repertoire had deep borderlands roots carried by popular oral tradition. Her mother and grandmother introduced her to the old 1880s canción, to música de antaño, and to the corrido trajectory. She evolved those musical vocabularies through her voice and aesthetics. Lo ranchero, in the form of the land base–inspired canción ranchera and also the corrido, ultimately became Mendoza’s chief staples. She performed in brightly sequined dresses that exhibited indigenous Mexican symbols. By contrast, Silva did not draw from those established norteño Tejana musical vocabularies. Her ambiance was the nightclub; her attire was slick, sexy, and markedly internationalist and cosmopolitan. Silva adopted the newly evolved urbanite Mexican bolero music, which reached the Tejano borderlands (and the entire hemisphere) in the 1930s through the recently established mass medium of radio. She can be credited with being in the forefront of promulgating the bolero, and with introducing a new song repertoire into the ever-changing Tejana/o norteño sphere, after establishing herself outside of Texas. Silva performed, for example, in Mexico City’s mega-radio station XEW, the continent’s most powerful broadcaster. Mendoza, by contrast, made a conscious choice to remain with her touring family on the US side of the border. One of Mendoza’s greatest accomplishments arises from the extraordinary length (six decades) of her musical career.1 Mendoza’s musical repertoire, ensemble, instruments, and interpretation of norteño song style from the oral tradition withstood the test of time more than Silva’s musical style and instrumentation. Yet both women carry the great distinction of having inspired and opened the performance world for many other women, in Texas and beyond; they both navigated within a business world controlled primarily by men.

 

9 Roland Barthes, Mojado, in Brownface: Chisme-laced Snapshots Documenting the Preposterous and Factlaced Claim That the Postmodern Was Born along the Borders of the Río Grande River William Anthony Nericcio

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WILLIAM ANTHONY NERICCIO

The editors have asked that I add a prolegomena to the forehead or face of this essay, and I am happy to do so. Way back in the day (old skool grad school days, when this son of la frontera was kidnapped by the Ivy League and whisked away to freeze his nalgas off in Ithaca, New York), I was a big fan of Roland Barthes—I thrilled to the jouissance of the pleasures of the text, read and reread the dispatches in Mythologies, etc. etc. Long story short, I escaped the wicked pirates of Cornell, got a job at the University of Connecticut, jumped ship to Califas and SDSU and, my first year there (1991, shh shh!) I wrote an in-house grant proposal and was awarded five hundred smackeroos to purchase my first 35 mm camera. The rest, as they say, is history. What follows are the theorylaced meditations of a Chicano on crack Kodak, a Mexicameran-American (that’s me in the center there to the right of Edward James Olmos; Barthes’s there to the right of me, or at least his photoshopped ghost is); I am utterly responsible for the contents of this rasquache semiotic whatsit and beg you reward the editors of this collection for allowing it to appear in these pages.

 

10 Decolonial Border Queers: Case Studies of Chicana/o Lesbians, Gay Men, and Transgender Folks in El Paso / Juárez

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EMMA PÉREZ

. . . but I don’t consider myself gay, not because I think, that “ugh!” you know, it’s because I see me and I see a gay male right here, and then I see [a] heterosexual male on the other side, you know what I mean, and I’m like, in the middle . . .

ORAL INTERVIEW WITH TRANSGENDER COCA SAPIEN (2001)

How do queers in the US-México cities of El Paso and Juárez “recognize themselves as subjects of a sexuality,” and what “fields of knowledge” and types of normativity have led Chicana/o lesbians, gay men, and transgender folks to experience a particular subjectivity?1 I want to consider this specific, historical, political border to argue that for these border queers of color, the particular fields of knowledge that make up their sexuality constitute an epistemology of coloniality. More importantly, queers in El Paso and Juárez must engage and perform decolonial practices to survive the colonial landscape.

When I began my study of queer Chicanas/os and Mexicanas/os in a region that was my home for fourteen years, I realized that questions outnumbered answers and that the twenty-four transcripts of oral interviews in my possession would only provide cursory insights into the lives of a few lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender folks in these geographic borderlands.2 My friend and former colleague at the University of Texas in El Paso, Gregory Ramos, conducted the oral interviews from 2000 to 2002 and subsequently wrote a poignant performance piece, “Border Voices,” inspired by the LGBTQ folks he interviewed. Of the twenty-five interviewees, seven were women, seventeen were men, and one was a transgender woman. Six of the seven women identified as Chicana, fronteriza, or Hispanic. One was white. Of the men, twelve identified as Chicano, Hispanic, or Mexicano; one was African American, one was Latino with parents from El Salvador, and three were white men.3 Overall, the majority of interviewees identified as Chicana/o, Mexican, or Hispanic. Those interviewed probably represent a cross-section of the predominantly Chicana/o and Mexican communities of El Paso, where seventy-eight percent of the population is of Mexican origin. Although some of the Chicano/a interviewees may have been born in Juárez or have family in Juárez, only one of the twenty-five said he was a Mexicano from Juárez. Although he lived in El Paso, his dual citizenship allowed his allegiance to México.4

 

11 “Te Amo, Te Amo, Te Amo”: Lorenzo Antonio and Sparx Performing Nuevo México Music Peter J. García

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PETER J. GARCÍA

It’s a hot summer afternoon and I am driving with my mother and my tío or her oldest brother heading west on Interstate 40 entering Albuquerque’s city limits following an intense extended family reunion held over the Fourth of July weekend held in my maternal ancestral village of el Torreon near Manzano, Abó, Chilili, Tajique, Estancia, and Mountainair in Torrance County. These picturesque New Mexican village communities remain hidden byways and represent some of the last bastions of the former Spanish pastoral rancheritos and former Mexican land grants from throughout the Río Abajo. Older Nuevomexicano residents remain rooted here and to the former ways of life that have survived now for centuries in a place twice colonized but which remains home to a unique raza heritage and a rooted, what Alicia Gaspar de Alba calls “alter-Native” Chicana/o culture with a unique New Mexican style in culinary and visual arts, architecture, music, language, and expressive culture. Throughout the entire Río Abajo, Mexicano settlements continue the older way of rural living with milpas, and similar to northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, further picturesque chains of village hamlets situated throughout the Sandía, Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, and Manzano mountain communities are located north, northeast, and directly east of Albuquerque. Many of my maternal family members and close relatives now live in Alburquerque but return often to the maternal village and my grandparents’ terreno for various family gatherings, solemn occasions, and fiestas.

 

12 Sonic Geographies and Anti-Border Musics: “We Didn’t Cross the Border, the Borders Crossed Us”

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ROBERTO D. HERNÁNDEZ

What must be done is to restore this dream to its proper time . . . and to its proper place . . .

FRANTZ FANON (1967)

Strong whirling sounds grow louder and louder. The surrounding brush sways violently and is nearly uprooted. A helicopter hovering overhead nears, and you hear the desperate words, “Levántate compadre / ¿Que pasa? / ¿Oyes ese zumbido? / Si, compadre . . . es el helicóptero . . . / Métete debajo de esos matorrales . . . de volada, apúrate. / Híjole, se me hace que ya me agarraron / Eso es lo de menos compadre, se me hace que ya nos llevo, la que nos trajo compadre.”

(Get up compadre / What’s happening? / Do you hear that noise? / Yes, compadre . . . it’s the helicopter . . . / Get under those bushes . . . quickly, hurry up. / Oh shit, I think they got me . . . / that is the least of it, compadre . . . I think the one that’s taking us . . . is the one that brought us here, compadre.)1

The above exchange opens Tijuana NO’s 1998 hit song “La Migra,” whose land and soundscape bears an eerie resemblance to the terrain near my childhood home, where corrugated steel extends into the Pacific Ocean, creating a rhythmic rumbling sound as wave after wave crashes up against the U-S///México border2 wall in the area once known as Friendship Park.3

 

13 Lila Downs’s Borderless Performance: Transculturation and Musical Communication Brenda M. Romero

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BRENDA M. ROMERO

Suddenly, everyone is interested in Lila Downs! Her musical performances appeal to multiethnic, multilingual, and transnational audiences across hemispheres, gender boundaries, and musical cultures. These audiences include progressive academics, political activists, and radical artists with political consciences. Who is this remarkable new vocalist/ composer? Lila Downs made her debut into the mainstream with four song credits in the acclaimed film Frida,1 where she appears singing in the tango and bedside scenes. Certainly her proximity to the Frida cult via the movie has led her to capitalize on the pop cultural Frida image, as her critics are quick to notice, but Lila also claims indigenous ancestry, holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology on Oaxacan textiles, and is a musical activist. Lila Downs is the daughter of a Caucasian father and a Mixtec2 mother; she straddles the middle of a divided world. This essay celebrates Lila Downs’s artistic contributions and proposes that she offers a truly new brand of musical performance that not only represents her own journey of personal discovery but also integrates diverse musical ideas and fuses deeply layered indigenous ideas and beliefs about music with sounds and lyrical imagery. The result is truly engaging for listeners on both sides of the US–México border.

 

14 El Macho: How the Women of Teatro Luna Became Men Paloma Martínez-Cruz & Liza Ann Acosta

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PALOMA MARTÍNEZ-CRUZ & LIZA ANN ACOSTA

ma·cho adj
having or showing characteristics conventionally regarded as typically male, especially physical strength and courage, aggressiveness, and lack of emotional response

n
a male who displays conventionally typical masculine characteristics1

If we accept Schechner’s claim that performance is “twice behaved behavior,” we must then ask, what is the force of that repetition?2

PEGGY PHELAN, THE ENDS OF PERFORMANCE

The play Machos, created and performed by Teatro Luna, Chicago’s all-Latina theatre company, illuminates the project of el macho. Accepting performance as “twice behaved behavior,” Machos interrogates the echoes of patriarchal conventions by dramatizing the boundaries of normative masculinity. The force compelling repetition of el macho’s gestures, vocabulary, and drives is immediate and all-encompassing: minutes into the play, the cast, donning contemporary urban Latino drag, tells us, “I learned it from my dad.” Socialization of the macho begins at birth and is reinforced at every juncture with pressures from peer groups, by mass communication, and by intimate relations and strangers alike. To relinquish any aspect of the performance of machismo is to be deemed less than a man. Our paper on Teatro Luna’s staged iteration of this high-stakes repertoire submits that the company’s performance of gender is a political act that ultimately awakens audience members to their own complicity in the construal of machismo: the revelation that gender is a ritual, rather than a biological imperative, implies that we are each an officiant laying down the liturgy of el macho. As an anti-oppression theater project, the ultimate aim of Machos is to denaturalize the binary construct of woman/man that habilitates patriarchal hegemony and to activate new social engagement with gender and sexuality as a dynamic continuum, a process of becoming, rather than a state of being.

 

15 Suturing Las Ramblas to East LA: Transnational Performances of Josefina López’s Real Women Have Curves

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TIFFANY ANA LÓPEZ

In the lexicon of media and visual culture, the term “suturing” describes the process by which a director or artist strategically connects various scenes by positioning them as mutually informative parts of a larger whole. The author makes full understanding of separate scenes contingent on reading them in conversation with one another; to ignore this crafted signaling is to refuse the lens of reading cast by the director or artist and, subsequently, to read narrowly and miss the full mark of the text.

Suturing is especially relevant to Josefina López’s Real Women Have Curves, a play about women working in a garment factory sewing dresses they themselves cannot wear because the dresses are both priced and sized out of their range. Sewing carries much artistic and critical force as a consistently deployed action, metaphor, and theme. It emphasizes how the play’s characters share their aspirations and struggles. Furthermore, López uses it to signify how several issues of violence, most especially economic and representational violence, are basted together via the mythos of the American dream.

 

16 Loving Revolution: Same-Sex Marriage and Queer Resistance in Monica Palacios’s Amor y Revolución

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MARIVEL T. DANIELSON

The brilliant campaigning and historic outcome of the 2008 United States presidential election resonated on local and global levels, shattering—in the views of many—the glass ceilings hovering just above the heads of people of color in the United States. Yet amidst the echoes of celebration, a multitude of voters watched in disbelief as the passing of California Proposition 8 stripped away the rights of same-sex couples to legally marry—a right recognized by the state Supreme Court in May 2008. For nearly six months, queer couples across the state had enjoyed equal access to the rite and rights of marriage before this proposition reversed the historic court ruling.1 Los Angeles–based Chicana writer and performer Monica Palacios staged her dissenting voice in the form of protest performance. Palacios’s treatment of same-sex marriage and Proposition 8 first appeared in an updated version of her one-woman show Greetings from a Queer Señorita that ran for four weeks in Santa Ana, CA, in summer 2008.2 In October 2008 at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, CA, Palacios merged the new pieces on same-sex marriage from Greetings to create Amor y Revolución, a silly, sex-laced, and politically charged romp through this defining political milieu for queer Californians.3 From political propaganda to popular reception, Palacios’s performances confront the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer4 rights through the reinscribed metaphor of revolution—a war and a fight for the right to love. Transcending the language of violence and combat, Palacios’s works seize a productive theatrical space of revolutionary love in the face of hateful media representation, legislation, and political campaigning. Invoking Augusto Boal and Gloria Anzaldúa’s living discourse on theater and theory, I will discuss how Palacios’s performances fashion an interstitial space of queer reinscription, coalition, and inspiration for queer and Latina/o communities.

 

17 Is Ugly Betty a Real Woman? Representations of Chicana Femininity Inscribed as a Site of (Transformative) Difference Jennifer Esposito

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JENNIFER ESPOSITO

Popular culture texts inform us about our social world. They teach us about ourselves and also about “Others.” We learn who is valued in the larger society as well as who is marginalized. Although popular culture reflects our society, as an institution it also helps construct ideologies that we live out and perform in our daily lives. People may turn to texts for information on what it means to be a particular race/ethnicity, gender, social class, and/or sexual orientation. Visual images thus become textual lessons that become inscribed on lived bodies and incorporated into ideological structures of society. For bodies already marginalized in the larger society, the power of representations becomes much more pronounced. In fact, a “burden of representation” exists whenever a marginalized group is represented in popular culture.1 This is especially true for the Latina body, as Mary Beltrán argues: “media representations of the Latina body thus form a symbolic battleground upon which the ambivalent place of Latinos and Latinas in US society is acted out.”2

 

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