Visual Vocabularies and Queer Citizenships: CRG Thursday Forum Series

Lecture | April 20 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 691 Barrows Hall

 Center for Race and Gender

The Center for Race & Gender Thursday Forum Series presents...
Visual Vocabularies & Queer Citizenships

Recuperating Afro-Indigenous Pasts: Collage Art and the Case of Undocumented Migration
Alan Palaez Lopez, Comparative Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

What does it mean to live in the United States as an undocumented Black and Indigenous immigrant? What types of memories do the undocumented have access to? This paper serves as a preliminary exploration of the ways in which undocumented immigrants develop visual and literary vocabularies in which to narrate their stories. Particularly, I focus on the collage-art of Afro-Oaxacan visual artists and botanist, Yesi. Through artist interviews, text exchanges, close readings and visual critiques of her work, I argue that Yesi’s use of collage-art serves as a method of creating counter-memories, recuperating past(s), contextualizing the present, and re-imagining an afro-indigenous future.

Islamicate Sexualities: Locating Race and Gender within the History of Sexuality
Andrew Gayed, York University

I will use visual art to investigate Middle Eastern homosexuality and focus on issues of Modernity, multiple Modernisms, and the West’s claim to Modernity. This discussion will have us thinking about Arab homo-sexualities in terms of desire and alternative masculinities rather than Western notions of visibility and coming out; narratives which are not conducive to understanding how Queer Arabs living in the West experience their sexuality. This is a discussion rooted in sociological ideas of gender, nationalism, and sexuality, and the triangulation of identity and oppression that could arise at their intersection. My intent is to see if we can reach a narrative of Western and non-Western Modernity that works beyond sexual oppression (Middle East) versus sexual acceptance (North America), and instead examines a negotiation of diasporic sexuality by incorporating different sociological strategies to help self-identification categories be less dichotomous.

Gay Arab societies enjoy subtle networks of expressing sexualities and identities, and these networks have been strongly influenced and changed by discourses of modernity and Western imperialism. Through case studies of visual art, this analysis will illustrate how the legacy of modernity has not yet erased these subtle networks of communication, and how diasporic subjects are conflicted by adhering to multiple identity narratives from multiple cultural sources. It is my contention that diasporic identity and sexuality can globally portray the culturally-specific local narratives of sexuality. In this way, we can see how local sexuality narratives are not passively being colonized by Western Queer discourse; instead, localized understandings of sexualities are being internalized and conceptualized by the diaspora, and the contemporary art they produce. The visual art of diasporic artists living in the West in conjunction with Queer artists living and working in the Middle East can contribute to understanding these local identity narratives, and how they manifest themselves in the lives of diasporic subjects globally.

Landscapes of Intimacy
Marco Antonio Flores, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

 centerrg@berkeley.edu