January 15, 2015

Put@ Rants of Being an Hijo de la Chingada

She straddles two worlds and remains fucked by both: La Chingada! I come back to La Malinche because of her disidentification that burdens her body and the signifiers of her identities as determinedly marginal. Octavio Paz names her passivity that renders her defenseless; she is left nameless and disappears into the void. The very void that appears between the First World of the academy and the Third World identities that make up our embodied subjectivities that are called incompatible, frauds, less-than, unintelligible, but mostly are just illegible to the White straight eyes that read them. What they don’t understand is that this disidentification is a survival strategy.

In his introduction to his seminal text, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, José Esteban Muñoz employs disidentification as a strategy for systems of power and our queer subjectivity: “one that neither opts to assimilate within such a structure nor strictly opposes it” (1999, p. 11). But the void that exists between systems of power constructs and impasse that sentences queer bodies to the role of the passive and the defenseless; in ways that continue to perpetuate the silences of the closet that inhibit queer voices from accounting for their own cultural production and the artistic productions of their position in this time and the spaces they occupy and embody.  

Gloria Anzaldúa, comadre: We haven’t stopped speaking, and they haven’t stopped trying to listen. But we speak a language clashing worlds don’t understand; a language they are not ready for. Mujerista and feminist theologies have already questioned the erotics of power in place that fail to account for the everyday experiences of bodies in difference, which enables the claiming of our sexual experience as hijos de la chingada through the dexterity of transdisciplinary approaches and the repeated tolerance of the discomfort that exists at all epistemological levels. How the put@ subject understands and interprets the world around her is a theological question. But she remains surrounded by hostile worlds that are difficult and dangerous to describe. Worlds that impose a necropolitical agenda upon her subjectivity; she is not counted, she is not human (considering relationships between Mbembe’s necropolitics and his response to Foucault’s biopower). 

Why are we so quick to accept La Malinche’s passivity? The cultural narratives we have taken for granted let her remain obsolete and lost. We created her nothingness. Let her be angry! I am dissatisfied with the interpretation that her being is entirely left to the shadows and she’s been abandoned by both worlds: by both her chingones. What if the anger that comes from the shame she experiences is a necessary queer intervention in understanding the put@ aesthetics at work that cripple queer brown bodies in cultural production, but also the academy. But La Malinche is not Job. The anger from the trials in her life is not celebrated as a test of patience and faith. Her faith is already discredited. She becomes Job's wife, by giving up on the abusive power that is imposed upon her family and children. Instead, she haunts with La Llorona wanting to reclaim her children; sorting through the fragments of dis-membered bodies. It is precisely the systems in place that have failed to give her accurate representation. La Malinche commits acts of dis-grace. Undoing the grace that was never extended to her in the first place. The indecency of the put@ opens her up the messiness of human sexuality that defines our Christian fetish with the humanness of Christ’s incarnation (variation of Marcella Althaus-Reid’s “indecent Christ”).

I take a theological approach to reading La Malinche because of my own disidentified subjectivity. Exercising a language that I have been burdened with, while also resisting other languages that I choke on through my forced interlocutors. Beyond that, I continue to enjoy and celebrate my formal training in theology and religious studies. Like La Malinche, I can never fully go home. I will remain a product of two worlds, fucked by both of them with my body left exposed and beaten. But I can find resistance in that embodiment and my familiarity and comfort within theological discourses prohibit me from abandoning it entirely. Instead, I need to continue to create new paradigms by which to articulate the differences we’ve been fucked by—to consider the failure and the impasse as spaces for theological inquiry. Pasivas fuck back.

July 7, 2014

Thinking through sex, genderfucks, and the urban space: What is queer Mexicanidad?

I've attended many Pride parades in the United States, each year seeing the same firetrucks with the same go-go boys, the same businesses expressing their "support for diversity" so as to tap into the gay consumer market. Over the years I've wrestled with feeling like Pride in the U.S. has lost it's grassroots radical legacy of presence and subversion of the status quo, and has instead defaulted for a more capitalist White homonormative image. Most recently, however, I had the unique opportunity to be present in Mexico City during their annual Marcha.

After beating my face with my friends Ché and Howl, we got on the crowded Metrobús in club-kid butch drag and headed for the Ángel de Independencia. We dove into the largest crowd of queer people I have ever seen (larger than New York Pride by comparison). As I was enveloped by the city, the fashion, the barely contained hostility for censorship, I felt alive and I felt proud.

Mexico's relationship with censorship and homosexuality is a bit more complicated than other countries in Latin American countries in which homosexuality was criminalized under dictatorships and sexual dissidents would be sent to camps, prisons, or disappeared entirely. The burden of a cultural history with machismo and homophobia, however places the specters of censorship and shame into a larger cultural context that I see younger generations of queers in Mexico responding to a problematizing in creative and provocative ways. The relationship between the urban landscape of Mexico City and the sexual freedom being celebrated got me to thinking...

In many ways the urban dwelling of the city attempts to regulate a privatization of sexuality and sexual cultures. The normative flows of time and space do not create natural sexual spaces or sexual time. Capitalist and nation time construct what Americans subscribe to as the work day and then forces them into ‘family time’ and the end of the work day shift. This regulation of the time and space reinforces the normative sexuality around certain constructions of what ‘family’ means and what family actually looks like. And in any case, it is a privatizing of sexuality and does not allow for queer sexuality to be a part of either family, or work time, or to participate in the public spheres of the urban dwelling. But there is a unique relationship between these forms of queer sexual cultures and urban spaces that is worth exploring.

Queer sexuality at its foundational core refers to any form of sex or sexual behavior that is non-procreative sex. However, in other conceptualizations of the queer sex, queerness describes same-sex sexual behavior, and any other variation of sexuality that is not within the confines of one man/one woman marriage. I employ the use of ‘queer’ to describe the resistance to any normative trajectories of sexuality, including describing sexual practices that are extramarital, group oriented, and outside of the bedroom—such as bathhouses, public cruising sites, parks, churches, etc. But to take queerness and the act of queering beyond the realm of sexuality is a rhetorical move. To describe the queering of something means to reject the normative trajectories and linear ways of operating that are in place in order to produce a new knowledge about that something, which in this case would be urban spaces. The queering of urban spaces describes the resistance of constructed norms that are shaped by urban existence: which I describe to be spheres of private vs. public and regimented time and space.

So can urban spaces be queered? I would argue, yes. Both in the traditional and expanded non-traditional definitions that I described. I also use the category of ‘queer’ beyond just the colloquial sense of its meaning. In other words, it is not solely about gender relations and constructions of sexuality. Rather, I believe these spaces and figures I explore are subverting all forms of normativity, thereby not only “reordering the relations among sexual behaviours, erotic identities, constructions of gender,” as David Halperin describes, but at the same time, “forms of knowledge, regimes of enunciation, logics of representation, modes of self-constitution, and practices of community.”  This project speaks to a queering of hierarchies and binaries presented in urban spaces that attempt to regulate bodies within the normative trajectories of sexual time and space.

As a theological category, ‘queer’ operates to help to explain and interpret the world around us through the traditions, narratives, and experiences of queer persons. If theology is “talk about the divine,” then, following the trajectory of the definitions of ‘queer’ that I described, queer theology offers a way of speaking about the divine in normative terms, or as Patrick Cheng describes,
In light of the definition of ‘queer’ as transgression, queer theology can be understood as a theological method that is self-consciously transgressive, especially by challenging societal norms about sexuality and gender. Thus queer theology refers to a way of doing theology that, in the words of the Magnificat, brings down the powerful and lifts up the lowly. In particular, this theology seeks to unearth silenced voices or hidden perspectives. 
Spaces and bodies that represent public sexuality remain at the margins of popular society. I put these representations of public sexuality from these pieces in conversation with a theological lens to consider the ways in which their relationship with urban landscapes presents a space or moment for an experience with the divine. As Cheng reminds us that “queer theology draws upon experience as a source for theology.” As is the case for other contextual forms of theological reflection, “queer theology is premised upon the belief that God acts within the specific contexts of our lives and experiences, despite the fact that LGBT lives and experiences have been excluded from traditional theological discourse.”

There is a collapsing of time and space when the image of the queer and the image of the urban space collide with one another. The City becomes a space of queer temporalities that operates within the non-normative structures of time and space. Queer temporality challenges the hallowed humanistic assumptions on time and life stages that posit the ‘responsible’ adult individual as emerging into maturity from the naïveté and confusion of adolescence, preparing for marriage and reproduction, with emphasis on inheritance and continuity from generation to the next. “Queer time” according to Jack Halberstam is time outside the framework of “reproductive time,” something thrown into focus at the end of the twentieth century by the AIDS epidemic that saw many lives telescoped into a few years of urgency and risk. People who live outside familial time often live outside capitalist (re)production and in marginalized or abandoned spaces—they are “ravers, club kids, HIV-positive barebackers, rent boys, sex workers, homeless people, drug dealers, and the unemployed.”  Although these are all ‘queer subjects’ in that they live outside the heteronormative organization of space and time, which is expressed and performed through the urban space. For Halberstam, the transgender body is the subcultural/queer subject par excellence because it is “within and between embodiment, place and practice.” Therefore, as a queered body in a space that holds onto a legacy of machista frameworks that do not know how to account for it's queer people, we as club-kids and genderfucks are eager to find creative ways of problematizing these spaces.

I am interested in the ways that urban spaces become restructured without the privatization or other spatial aspects. In other words, in what ways is public sexuality performed with the actual urban spaces and not just within the walls of the bedroom or the bathhouse? What does it mean for sex and the urban space to overlap one another?

July 6, 2014


An intertextual experiment with Queers Read This...

Life at its best is a space of utter chaos. Having no respect for those who traverse the margins.

Queers Read This: "How can I convey this reality? How can I convey that your life is in danger of seizing to exist? That everyday you wake up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being, you are committing a rebellious and deviant act. The very fact that you are alive, breathing, filling up space with your flesh and bones, and the reality that you feel emotions for another human being means that you are a revolutionary and you don’t exist."

There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects or encourages the existence of the borderland. Homosexuality is an invisible institution and the only reason you are spared is chance, intellect, or because machista rhetoric necessitates the presence of los otros—necesitan a alguien a ser la cogid@. Pero estamos los otros entre los otros: la jotería.

The jot@ is up and against a White heterosexist framework that imposes particular understandings of what it means to be a sexual body in this world. Within the Mexican@ and Chican@ cultural contexts, homosexuality does not exist. Sexual orientation is based solely on sexual positionality. Los activos pass through the machista framework and retain their privilege that is afforded to them—a privilege and power that is shaped and formed in schizophrenic response to White heterosexist hegemony. Los pasivos son de los otros. Son los cogidos, los maricones, los homosexuales. I employ the use of the category of la jotería to describe the sexual bodies that fuck back. To describe a consciousness that links our sexual bodies to queer temporalities that are rooted in our tradition from the spine of Frida, to the butchered Coyolxauhqui, to the rough tender voice of Chavela.

Where do we locate la jotería in the postcolony? La jotería functions as subversive intervention and a relentless critique of masculinist and colonial categories of body, space, and time. La jotería explores a sacred geography we are all too familiar with: the margins. As a category of sexual bodies that are absent from the conversation because of our embodied realities as brown and pink individuals, la jotería critiques the impositions of Western White hegemonic masculine discourses. It introduces a new language to talk about sexuality in the postcolony.

Queer and feminist theoretical frameworks have a long history of being, and often times continue to be, monolithic. Speaking in the language of White, Western, Christian hegemonic masculinist ideologies, that when imposed upon homosexuals and other gender deviants, morphs them into their own idealized image of sexual morality. Being that we are not all White, Western, Christian heterosexual men, certainly is of no importance in those particular narratives.

We are reminded, however, that as jot@s in the postcolony seek to challenge those constructions of sexual normalcy that define sexuality in own contexts. Our diversity is our strength in the face of the familiar, tyrannical colonial project to impose the monolithic, all-enveloping truths.

This is our manifesto como la jotería.

Es nuestro (mari)festo.

Those in the margins remain erased and excluded within the composition of the imagined nation called America. These groups think to overthrow the government, with such racist legislation as the SB 1070 bill and, and defy those who identity within the majority of America: The White heterosexist.

It is somewhat possible to theorize ways retaliate against a colonizing and racist system of government that imposes such legislation, however only through the assistance and adoption of those who are willing to resist and subvert societal ‘norms.’ But there’s still something at work preventing them form achieving their goals; that is, the invisibility of white privilege. Now, however, is the time to reveal and deconstruct the invisibility of white privilege and its monstrous creations. Expose to the world the constructed narratives that operate through the filters of White heterosexism—a product of the colonial encounter.

The White heterosexist is oblivious of their privilege trapped in their own world and incapable of empathizing with those who don’t share their power. They are isolated from reality and cannot relate to anything lacking assimilationist qualities. At best, they are lackluster beings trapped in little universes, constructed realities, feeling only positive emotions which can only be associated with people who look, think, and act like them. Homosocialism runs rampant in the construction of nation. Afraid to face the ‘real world’—whatever that is—they are only aware of what and who they are.

Overflowing with positive emotions and non-empathizing ways, the White heterosexist is only concerned about one thing: assimilation. They have no regret for destroying cultures and depleting people. SB 1070, HB 2281, Proposition 8: the blueprints for how to get rid of the ‘illegals,’ ‘incompatibles,’ deviant behaviors and ways of thinking. The disposing of our cultural histories and the celebration of our heritage como la jotería and the recognition of relationships, because all these cultural images of brown bodies and same-gender oriented bodies uniting are not the cultural images of what is American.

Since they lack the lens to see the world outside their imposed binaries of a ‘black and ‘white’ world, White heterosexist discourse seeks to eradicate any form of coloration seen in society because it is the only way they can deal with the endeavors of legislatively eliminating the those whose embodied realities resist the normative trajectories they hope to impost through said pieces of law. Living in a belief system to be rightfully theirs and seeking law enforcement to pave the path clear of any obstructions they might encounter in the purification of the nation.

La jotería no existe or at least will seize to exist within this imagined space we call nation. The nation allows the privilege of White heterosexist discourse to assume any position it wants in order to impose systems of assimilation and doctrines of erasure upon the society.

Until the nation can take responsibility for the invisibility of the privilege it possesses as a result of White heterosexism.

Try to understand their power.

Try to empathize with those who don’t share mutual access to power and those who dwell in the margins. Anzaldúa cries out for us to listen to what our jotería is saying. That’s when the queers of color can fight back and resist such heinous legislations and borders around what constitutes nation and citizen. To fight back against borders and normative boundaries that exterminate beautiful ways of living and people’s rich culture making our global context unique.

Where is our space and time? Where do we locate la jotería in the postcolony? Nation and family time dictates our urban spaces that force us into the bedroom así que nostros podemos coger como los otros. We are not white enough to be twinks, bears, daddies, etc. We are a commodity, a fetish, a genre of porn the White faggot jerks off to. We remain to be los otros entre los otros because we do not fit within the normative trajectories of what is LGBTQ in the American context. We are not Mexican@s or Chican@s because we are the pasivos that fuck back. Where is our time and space? We are entirely rejected and not brought into a shared experience in the queer temporalities already in place, nor are we participating in the brown temporalities and spaces because we belong to an institution that doesn’t exist.

Is our time and space a Queer Aztlán? Comadre — We cannot have a primitivist conception of time. Primitivism is characterized by returning to a natural state before corruption, a time to the best. Aztlán is still loaded with images of violence and homosexual degradation and humiliation, why do we still hold onto the romanticized image that this is our utopia? We remain betwixt and between, on the borderlands because we can’t go home. Anzaldúa talks about homophobia incorrectly being described as the fear of going home, but how appropriate of a concept. If we fear going back to our homeland and we fear living in this world, then what temporal space do we belong to?

We occupy the liminalities of sexuality. We need to traverse in the margins and only make them wide so that the content between them becomes smaller and smaller to the point that it doesn’t exist and all that’s left is blank space. The White (hetero)normative world attempts to eliminate us so why not eliminate it. I implore you to be the subversive entity that crosses the borders. Jump the fences of normative time and space and nation, and fill up the margins.

April 10, 2014

NEW ARTICLE: Traces of Transgressive Traditions: Shifting Liberation Theologies through Jotería Studies

In this recent number of Aztlán: Journal of Chicano Studies there is a special dossier section on jotería studies with essays from a variety of scholars and artists engaged in this bourgeoning field. Included in those essays is my take on a genealogy for a jotería theology in which I turn to liberation theology and mujerista thought as predecessors that have opened up theological spaces and temporalities to talk about the body and race in theological terms.

Read the full article here.

Excerpt from article...

Conceptualizing the field of jotería studies within the queer Chicana/o imagination is a sacred act that not only liberates our jotería as a people and an identity but also gestures toward the theological development of sexual minorities within Chicana/o and Mexican contexts. As a queer Chicano activist-theologian, I find myself dissatisfied with current progressive theologies that do not speak to the experiences and embodiment of a jotería identity. My own experiences have left me frustrated by the ways in which conversations within current queer theological thought continue to be filtered through a white masculinist lens, loaded with privilege and levels of access, that does not lend itself to other global or cultural contexts. Likewise, while Latin American liberation theologies have foregrounded issues of race and class difference, these discourses have downplayed, or neglected altogether, the experiences of marginalization and oppression of queer persons, both in their own right and in relation to race and class. I believe, however, that the emergence of jotería studies enables a rethinking of the body and sex in light of Chicana/o experiences that informs and extends my own theological frameworks. I argue that current progressive theologies neglect to develop and imagine understandings of marginalized bodies by considering race, class, and sexuality as categories that shape one another. In effect, queer Chicana/os are left behind and out of the picture when queer embodied and collective experiences are discussed and interpreted.

March 20, 2013

Habemus Papam, No Homo

In a letter sent to monasteries in Buenos Aires about Argentina’s now-approved marriage equality legislation, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote: “Let's not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” The announcement of Cardinal Bergoglio as the newly elected Pope, now Pope Francis I, was matched by resounding thoughts on his Jesuit background and of course, the celebration of the first non-European pope. However, for LGBT persons, Pope Francis’ reputation for very strong thoughts on sexuality and same-sex parent adoption is not easily overlooked.

Like Pope Benedict, Pope Francis is a complicated figure with a mixed bag of histories, theologies, and practices that both set him apart and yet align him with past and present Catholic leaders. Aside from his very orthodox views on sexuality and same-sex parent adoption, there is a lot of controversy over his role and relationship to the military junta during The Dirty War in Argentina. Already Pope Francis’ history is preceding him with allegations about not protecting two of his fellow priests that were kidnapped during this period. It is also rumored that he helped to conceal political prisoners during the dictatorship. However, these charges were not substantiated, but we'll continue to hear more about the world becomes more acquainted with the new head of the Catholic Church.

A lot of attention has been brought to Pope Francis’ intentional work with poverty and the AIDS community. As a Jesuit and like many prelates of the Catholic Church, this work is notable and an important part of their ministry. Naturally, with a figure elected from Latin America, with an intentional focus on work with the poor, conversations around liberation theology have been foregrounded. A “preferential option for the poor” is at the heart of liberation theology and during many of the Latin American dictatorships we saw liberation theology take an important and subversive role. However, not unlike his predecessor Benedict, Francis has openly criticized liberation theology, even as other Latin American religious leaders embraced this necessary move for social justice in the Americas and the developing world.

With this very heavy background, it easy to understand the hesitation among LGBT persons to not be in celebration of yet another religious leader who has a history of rejecting gay and lesbian children of God. However, as a queer Latin American theologian, it is not that easy for me to make such a conclusion. His resistance and intentional moves to distinguish himself from liberation theology does not concern me. Liberation theology has opened the discussion for the ways in which oppressed bodies relate to the divine and each other and has raised issues of racial and class difference, which I see at the heart of queer theologies of color. The liberationist emphasis on the “preferential option for the poor” speaks to a universality of God’s love, which excludes no one. However, queer voices have never been at the foreground of liberationist literature, no were sexual minorities and other gender deviants a priority for early liberation thinkers.  Early liberation theologians failed to see the shared experiences of oppression of queers and our own spiritual journeys as minorities. So for Pope Francis to distinguish himself from liberationists, I am neither worried nor excited, since in many situations as a queer person I am even distinguished from liberation theologians.

So does Pope Francis have it out for the gays? It is far more complicated than just a yes or no, especially if we think about it within a Latin American context. Traditionally, within Latin America sexuality is based on sexual positionality; that is, homosexuality was defined only by what position a man assumes during sexual encounters with another man (lesbians were usually exempt from this taxonomy). In other words, homosexual men were only receptive partners during same-sex intercourse, while the other partner was able to retain a masculine, heterosexual marker of identity. This is a cultural context that needs to be considered when thinking about the relationships between race, sexuality, and religion. I argue that current progressive theologies neglect to develop and imagine understandings of marginalized bodies by considering race, class, and sexuality as categories that shape one another.

What I see in Pope Francis’ complicated and messy background is the potential and hope for a new form of progressive theology and ministry that can emerge within the Catholic Church. Taking his name from St. Francis of Assisi, the papacy is already setting a new tone for his ministry. One of Pope Francis’ most vocal supporters has been Leonardo Boff, one of the founders of liberation theology, a man silenced by the Vatican in 1985 because of his criticism of the church in his book The Church, Charisma and Power. With regard to the new Pope, Boff writes:
Francis isn’t a name; it’s a plan for a Church that is poor, simple, gospel-centered, and devoid of all power. It’s a Church that walks the way together with the least and last, that creates the first communities of brothers and sisters who recite the breviary under the trees with the birds. It’s an ecological Church that calls all beings those sweet words “brothers and sisters”. Francis was obedient to the Church and the popes and at the same time he followed his own path with the gospel of poverty in hand…
This is a beautiful vision for the church for queer people and it is the same vision I share. As queer people, our history is messy and complicated, but we have traversed the wilderness in meaningful ways that have taken us out of Stonewall, into the streets, into the voting booths, and hopefully now back into the pews of the church to write our own church history for how Christ’s gospel of radical love and justice can be acted out in our contemporary context.

Original post at The Bilerico Project on March 20, 2013

November 29, 2012

Un abstracto abstracto del joto, el subalterno y la subjetividad queer en Latinoamérica

Al discutir la homosexualidad en términos discursivos, la palabra “queer” no existe en español. Históricamente, la homosexualidad sigue siendo descrita y definida en términos de posicionalidad sexual—un producto del binario de “activos” y “pasivos.” Sostengo que este binario borra la identidad sexual y la autoafirmación de personas “queer.” Así, yo pregunto, ¿Cómo podemos hablar sobre el deseo entre personas del mismo sexo en la poscolonia? En este proyecto, empleo el término “jotería” no sólo como una categoría de identidad sexual, sino también como un marco teórico para hablar sobre el deseo homosexual en Latinoamérica. Teniendo en cuenta la ausencia de un término nativo para discutir los latinos queer, creo que “jotería” reclama una categoría de una identidad que se ha utilizado para borrar y hablar por el sujeto queer. Me interesa cómo los pensadores queer utilizan estructuras teóricas que ya existen en los discursos latinoamericanos para hablar de jotería como una categoría dentro de las conversaciones que ya están ocurriendo sobre el poder y la subjetividad en relación al cuerpo y la sexualidad. Por consiguiente, este ensayo considera los debates subalternos para situar el sujeto joto dentro de estos marcos para abordar y escenificar las conversaciones sobre quién es el subalterno, quién es el joto y si ambos pueden hablar o definir su propia encarnación en sus propios términos. A través de estas conversaciones, argumento que los estudios subalternos y los estudios jotería exponen los límites y las desventajas de cada uno, mientras trabajan para identificar una manera de hablar de los cuerpos en los márgenes.

November 25, 2012

Fragments of the Body, Queer Memory, and the Latin American Avant-Garde

CADA (Colectivo Acciones de Arte), "No +" (No más)

This semester I have been engaging some very exciting and thoughtful conversations about theoretical and cultural development in Latin America with my colleagues in a seminar. Our focus on subaltern studies, (post)dictatorship, and (post)hegemony have really provided a bit of a theoretical foundation for the queer readings I want to bring to a Latin American theological representation of jotería subjects. As a result I have a few projects in the works that will tease out the relationship between these themes and queer theological studies.

I have been particularly struck by the development of the Latin American avant-garde. I believe the avant-garde opened a space for the inversion of signs and a moment of resistance to the normative trajectories and political systems in place that created an innumerable amount of marginal subjects. These historias remain in fragments though, and thus questions of memory are at the forefront of these conversations. In my recent reading of The Insubordination of Signs by Nelly Richard, I was drawn to the fact that the memory lost as a result of the military regime in Chile remains suppressed, if only because it would threaten the very fabric of political reconciliation whose entire premise was to put the past in the past. For Richard, all that remains are residues, “fragments of experience…no longer speakable in the language that survived the catastrophe of meaning” (5). I am interested in this idea of fragmentation as the after-effects of erasure and trauma. Richard describes how the military regime banished dissident voices and identities and prevented their representation, leaving them nameless and inexpressible. Those banished identities and narratives remain excluded in the post-dictatorship.

I am really interested in locating this within queer studies, where conversations about erasure and recovery of fragments of experience are key to many queer narratives and theory. I’m thinking of An Archive of Feelings by Ann Cvetokovich in particular, where she discusses a queer approach to trauma that examines the recovery of those experiences already embedded in an archive—an “archive of feelings” that she defines as “an exploration of cultural texts as repositories of feelings and emotions, which are encoded not only in the content of the texts themselves but in the practices that surround their production and reception” (7). Needless to say, in Latin America during many of these moments of dictatorship and military regimes, queer bodies were equally erased and became part of an invisible institution of other dissident bodies and voices. I am thus interested in the process of recovery and how that relates to the body: Does the body remember?

Richard writes,
Memories associated with the subaltern registers of the domestic and the popular, the urban, the feminine, and the biographical-erotic, entered as contraband into the upper regions of cultural representation, to contest the hierarchies of race, class, and gender fixing the scale of distinctions and privileges consecrated by traditional art (13).
Recovery is a form of disruption then, which is queer in nature. But how is fragmentation made whole again? Is the subaltern experience always a fragmented one? Richard is obviously not talking about queer discourses, but I think her work informs my own in terms of me thinking about how I locate the queer subject in Latin America. In a context where homosexuality is an invisible institution and only based on sexual positionality, where then do we locate same-sex desire in the postcolony? I wonder if Richard provides me with a historical context in which recovery of the fragments is happening. I just wonder if this recovery and remembrance reproduces violence in the body. And even then, who gets to recover? Which dissident voices get to rearticulate their voices? Do we get to speak to those who are permanently disappeared?

I think about the ways in which we rescue and rewrite the signs to make them inverted and subversive against the hegemonic systems in place. The ACT UP movement, for example, transformed the face and image of AIDS activism in the United States. "Silence = Death" and the pink triangle moved the body and mind in a way that incited individuals to have a conversation about AIDS and the impact it was having on populations. The recent documentary, "How to Survive a Plague" really reminded of the efforts of CADA in Chile, in terms of the same resistance to normative trajectories and their creative moments of relentless direct action. The documentary uses the original footage from the personal camcorders of the activists themselves.

More recently, the Occupy movements have also reminded me of the avant-garde movement we saw by CADA, which was a collective movement by artists, activists, and even scholars. Everyone had a different reason and agenda for why they were occupying, but they gathered under the same umbrella and tent, if you will, of the occupation. My question is then, what would it look like for a queer avant-garde in Latin America that foregrounds jotería bodies that are resisting the normative trajectories in place that continue to perpetuate their erasure and invisibility. What would their recovery look like?

Revised from my original post in "Latin America in Theory"on October 9, 2012