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

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub

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

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

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub

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.

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

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub

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.

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

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub

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.

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19 No Somos Criminales: Crossing Borders in Contemporary Latina and Latino Music Arturo J. Aldama

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub

ARTURO J. ALDAMA

Anti-immigrant discourse in general and anti-Mexican hate speech and hate crimes in particular are a central piece of contemporary US political and public culture. The racist sense of entitlement by anti-immigrant xenophobes is echoed in a variety of formats including public radio, prime time news shows, and the blogosphere, and it is a central platform of many Republican senators, governors, and elected city officials such as mayors. Anti-immigrant games such as “Catch the Wetback” are the new form of political theatrics on many college campuses, and the Southern Poverty Law Center that does the Klan Watch has noted an incredible increase in hate-motivated violence toward those perceived as undocumented in the United States in the last several years.

The issues that concern me most are the arrogance of power and the absolute sense of racial entitlement that drive the supposedly fringe paramilitary nativist and neo-Nazi vigilante groups along the border and throughout the United States (which, in a loose chronology, include the Barnett Brothers, Ranch Rescue, the American Border Patrol, the Christian Identity Movement, the National Alliance, and the Minute Men) that have spread into the American mainstream. In fact, the political and public cultures of the United States carry an enormous weight of transversal racial hostility, evidenced most recently by Arizona Senate Bill 1070.1

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