May 2011 Archives

"Wearing Down Arizona" -a talk with Sandra Soto

Prof. Sandra Soto gave a talk as part of the Colloquia Series that was co-sponsored by GWSS and Chicano Studies on Thursday April 21st. The talk was originally called "What's Wrong with Arizona" but she renamed it "Wearing Down Arizona." She spoke of her current activist work (with the Tucson 11) in response to the recent ban on Ethnic Studies as well as well as the now famous SB1070. This law would allow and require police officers to act as border enforcement agents and demand documentation from anyone "perceived" to be undocumented. One of the things I found interesting and telling is that for Tom Horne and other critics, the mere mention of "race" is considered racist i.e. the ban on Ethnic Studies classes. Prof. Soto also gave an example of the way that Horne often quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speeches that she referred to as the "deadening" of speech. Prof. Soto also spoke of the way that Horne has targeted the books used in Mexican American Studies programs (namely Occupied America) as well as youth activists as "seditious" and "militant" troublemakers. At the root of this "racialization of fear," is the hope that through aggressive and overt hate aimed at brown bodies, people will begin to "self-deport." One of my concerns that I spoke with Prof. Soto about was the rate of youth suicide for undocumented persons as an unfortunate reality of "self deportation." Prof. Soto also spoke extensively of the possibilities for queer theory to be used in critiquing the legal aspects of such initiatives as well as the deconstruction of family-valued based rhetoric. The presentation was helpful for me to think through my own research interests on how language is employed to create a racialized fear of "others." Some of the questions I had centered on how the racialization of fear has repercussions for both migrants and U.S. born people of color. How can we analyze this relationship without conflating the two very distinct experiences? How can one speak of the realities of racialization without being labeled a racist? And, what is next? If we know that Ethnic Studies is under attack throughout the country along with a rampant and seemingly acceptable xenophobia, what does can this moment teach us about "diversity" "coalitions" and "representation"?
-reina rodríguez

"News from our Families - At the Borders"

This talk sponsored by the Diversity & Equality, the Women's Center, and the GLBTA Programs Office as well as our very own GWSS department featured professors Daniel Brauer form ASU, Charles Morris from Boston College as well as Karma Chavez from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Being that I has recently read Chavez's "Spacializing Performativity" article that spoke of the death of Victoria Arellano, I was very looking forward to the talk. The panelists spoke of the possibilities of coalition building among LGBT and migration activist and scholars and touched on the potential risks of such coalitions. Prof. Brauer began his discussion by speaking about the prominence and visibility of the Westboro Baptist Church and the ways that homophobia was understood/presented it media during the protests at military funerals as opposed to protests targeting funerals of LGBTQ community members. Prof. Morris spoke of a news story that claimed to "transcend race and sexuality" wherein a picture of a "modern" queer family was located in a "liminal space" in the queer archive. I found this quite interesting with regard to how visibility becomes negotiated for queer families. What is lost in this media story / queer archive? What is gained from this type of visibility especially one that claims to transcend both sexuality and race? Prof. Chavez's talk was most interesting to me because it focused on asking this question. In the "coming out of the shadows" narrative of undocumented youth exclaiming that they are "undocumented and unafraid" what is at stake for the LGBTQ youth that demand to be recognized wholly? What can be gained from coalition movements? Is there always a common ground or is one aspect always being overlooked/ignored/trumped?
-reina rodríguez


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