I am an artist-scholar with a grounding in community-engaged scholarship and justice-based projects. My scholarship is transdisciplinary in nature and refuses disciplinary decadence. My primary areas of focus are: performance studies, trans* studies, women's and gender studies, decolonial studies, transnational feminisms, queer studies, black diaspora studies, oral history, cultural studies, and particular areas of Abya Yala that concentrate in on México.
Dissertation Abstract (Intimacies of Un-becoming: Oral History Performances and Mujeres Afrodescendientes in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México)
This dissertation explores some possibilities for performing black diasporic subjectivity for women in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México. Engaging three Afro- descendant women’s narrative histories, this critical-ethnographic and oral history-based project addresses the complexities of socio-historical, political, and personal memory-making and subject formation. I ask: How do women in San Cristóbal understand themselves as black subjects when they do not and have not ever existed in a community of black people in México? What does it mean to perform blackness in the context of San Cristóbal de las Casas? What is the role of oral history in shaping meaning-making across black lives and histories? My aim is to animate theoretical contingencies in and implications of each woman’s narrative performance, focusing on reflexive engagement their respective genealogies and discoveries; the difficulty of finding ways to name their lived experiences given the dominant claims of of Mexican mestizaje and coastal narratives on Afro- Mexicanness; the heterogeneous nature of each of their life trajectories and communities of affiliation; colonial legacies that shape the violences that cross black women and how they wrestle with them; and what I will call processual “un-becomings” as the intimate and lifelong work of performing blackness in San Cristobal.
Each of the dissertation’s three core chapters focuses on the life narrative of one woman. In Chapter Two, I consider how oral history performance and live performance come into conversation to enliven critical intercultural subjectivity and ancestral longings. In Chapter Three, I imagine what a Mexican double consciousness might be and how one can be racially and corporeally interpellated as a black subject. In Chapter Four, I contemplate how resignification practices work against the operation of the sociogenic principle as a defining force in racialized identity for black women. The final chapter forwards the idea of “affective encounters” of oral history performance work, imagining future possibilities made in dialogue, performance, and community in San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Through the study of individual lives, oral history performances, and the performance of the oral history encounter, this dissertation explores what is, or what could be, a more just vision for black diasporic subjectivity for Afro-descendant women.
Book Project (in process)
My book develops a poetic-performance and theoretical framework for naming transfeminist embodiment practices that figure trans* bodies as layered histories. Calling on Afro-futurism, inspired by the work of Alexis Pauline Gumbs's M Archive, the project intends to forward and participate in the generation of spaces (material, theoretical, epistemological, ontological, and artistic) for figuring embodiments by and for trans* people, particularly trans* people of color. Citing the geographical spaces where the body archives of transgender performance artists find their emergence, I ask how certain trans* bodies perform and desire “un cuerpo incoherente” (an incoherent body) as feminist corporeal autonomy. Performatively suspending the scopic regime of legibility, how do marks, traces, and layers create an erotic ancestry of flesh?
I think of classrooms as spaces of pedagogical alchemy. My university classrooms are discussion-rich and student centered, encouraging critical intellectual inquiry with attention to social locations such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, cognitive and functional diversity, religion, and sexuality as integral practices of situating learning processes and information. In my syllabi, the voices of non-Western and non-white scholars, artists, and organizers are centered as crucial to practices of knowledge production. Working with large populations of students of color and first-generation students, I teach skill-building in writing, speaking, and dialogue as methods of knowledge synthesis, integration, and analysis. I ground my students in honing in on skills that allow them access to critical thought as a non-elitist project. In this way, I extend the legacy of critical pedagogues that understand pedagogy as the way in which we learn to name our experiences of the world, expanding our capacity to change it. I base my teaching on premises of transfeminism and decolonial pedagogy.
Current Courses (Spring 2019):
-Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies, WGS 250
-Introduction to LGBTQI Studies, WGS 270
Publications/Publicaciones (2018, onward)
(2019) Cuerpos y existencias cotidianas trans* como ruptura, abertura e invitación en Mujeres y Pueblos: Despojos, Cuerpos, Resistencias en el Sur Global, editado por Xochitl Leyva Solano y Rosalba Icaza.
(2019) Critical/Performance Ethnography, Oral History Performance, and Listening: Notes on Methods for Living Research in The Routledge Handbook of Performance Studies Research Methods, Edited by Craig Gingrich-Phillbrook and Jake Simmons.
(2019) If Rigor is Our Dream: Theorizing Black Trans*masculine Futures through Ancestral Erotics in Dancing with Gender in the Intersections: Critical Autoethnography, Intercultural Communication, and the Case for Gender Futurity, Edited by Amber Johnson, Benjamin LeMaster, and Sohinee Roy.