Identity, Biography, Community

Last week, in your definitions of concepts from the Baez, Hernández, as well as Rodríguez, and Sandoval et al, you defined identity mainly as:

conceptions of the self, defined by the negative (what one is not), facets of identity being in competition with one another, constantly in a process of making and remaking, in flux, self-definition, intersectional, and hybrid

This week, we’re adding an attention to how an individual (story) may shed light on a community. In the assigned reading, Vicki Ruiz and Virginia Sanchez-Korrol seek to do just that. Here’s a video of a speech they gave in a recognition reception.

What do you think about their impetus for telling stories?

In their text they indicate that they are not simply “giving voice” to these women, but “situating the spaces in the text” (4). Therefore, they tell stories of latinidad: “the politics and poetics of identity formation” merging the “locus of experience with the object of analysis” (5) to address agency and voice.

To situate the spaces in the text, I would like you all to construct a timeline of the events and places they cover in the text. You will be given a blank piece of paper, and it’s up to you how you construct the timeline, but it must be informed by the events, people, and places that Sánchez-Korrol and Ruiz cover.

How does your timeline correlate with other pieces we’ve read that bring up Latinx histories? What are the themes/preoccupations that come up?

For Thursday (3.8):

  • Read Latina Legacies Chapter 5 & &
  • Write a short (~250 words) brainstorm on your multimodal/creative project.


Bridgework: Puerto Rican Feminisms

To transition into a consideration of Puerto Rican feminism, I would like us to listen to a few segments from Alt Latino on Reggaetón in the #MeToo era:

Interestingly, one of the interviewees wrote a book called Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico. In the spirit of remixing, we should discuss the Multimodal/Creative Production Assignment prompt, which you can find on Blackboard’s Assignment tab.

It would also be useful for you to talk through the argument you’re making in your midterm essay, so I would like us to go through a quick argumentative “speed-dating” session. In two minutes you will talk to a peer about the topic you’re addressing, the theory you’re using, and the tentative argument you’re making, which will be followed by two more minutes discussing the “so what” of your piece: what are you saying about your topic and about Latina feminist theories?

Puerto Rican Feminists Creating Bridges


Aurora Levins Morales


Throughout the texts, Rosario Morales and her daughter project a preoccupation with identity, politics, place, and race, among others. What were your thoughts on these Puerto Rican feminist positions? How is it different than, or related to other feminisms we’ve discussed thus far?

For Tuesday (3.6)

Read Vicki Ruiz and Virginia Sanchez-Korrol- “Introduction to Latina Legacies”

Submit Midterm–Print and bring to class

Identity, Performance, Aesthetics, Agency

Before filling out the heuristic (which can be found on Blackboard’s Assignment section), watch the following two videos:

Ivy Queen of 1997:

Ivy Queen of 2009:

A brief bio of the authors:

Jillian Hernandez

Jillian Hernandez’s transdisciplinary scholarship, which synthesizes methods from anthropology, art history, and cultural studies, draws from her experiences as a girls’ educator and curator of contemporary art. Her research investigates questions regarding processes of racialization, sexualities, embodiment, girlhood, and the politics of cultural production ranging from underground and mainstream hip hop to visual and performance art. (UCSD)

Jillian BaezProfessor Báez specializes in Latina/o media, audience studies, transnational feminisms, and media literacy. She has published her work in the Journal of Popular Communication, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Professor Báez is currently writing a book on Latina audiences’ engagement with images of the Latina body in film, television, and advertising. She is also writing several articles on the use of social media in the immigrant rights movement. (CUNY Staten Island)

For Thursday (3.1):

Bring a draft of your midterm (at least two pages/up to three)

Read Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla, Rosario Morales, Aurora Levins Morales

De-colonial Perfoma(n)tics

We read a few pieces of original testimonios from de-colonial feminists.

  • How do you think they relate to this class? What about the current moment in the U.S.? How do they enact de-colonial performance?

Here are a key facts that can help you in understanding the world they were traveling from: literally and metaphorically:

Rigoberta Menchú

  • First, a longer explanation of who Rigoberta Menchú was, as she recognized by the Nobel Prize community.
  • A timeline from PBS Newshour explaining the horrendous violence she was fleeing: starting with a U.S.-backed coup.
  • Besides the activism she engaged in, it is worth noting how her book, and the excerpt in You Can’t Drown the Fire: Latin American Women Writing in Exile was the result of an oral history.

Mercedes Sosa

  • Mercedes Sosa’s life was also entangled in a complex political situation in her home country of Argentina.
  • Known for her songs professing liberation, she was especially pressured by the right-wing dictatorship replacing Isabel Martinez de Perón in 1976.
  • She lived in exile but returned to Argentina in 1982.
  • Refer to her obituary, and an opinion piece from the New York Times for more information on her life and the political situation in the world she was fleeing.

Because today we are focusing on the performance of de-colonial efforts, here is a song Mercedes Sosa produced while in exile. What do you think is her overall message?

Refer to this website for lyrics in English and Spanish.

More De-colonial Performances for Extra Credit:


a photo related to the event

As you know, it is Black history month, and this includes people from Caribbean diaspora. I’m especially affectionate of Bomba Boricua but would be happy to read about other genres that you listen to, if you decide to write about music.

One of the authors mentioned by Chela Sandoval et al, was Juan Flores, a Puerto Rican scholar who has written extensively on bomba, most notably in his From Bomba to Hip Hop. There were other performance traditions mentioned in the reading, among them theater of the oppressed. Let’s practice one technique from this kind of theater tradition: mirroring.

What would you say is the overall goal of de-colonial performa(n)tics?

For Tuesday (2.27):

Read Jillian Báez, and Jillian Hernandez. Search for secondary sources.

Methodologies, “World-Traveling,” and “Discursive Spaces”

María Lugones

From her Binghamton University Profile:

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and of Women’s Studies: Ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of race and gender
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  • Most recently recognized for her work on Decolonial Feminist Methodologies
  • Has participated in roundtable discussions at Syracuse University (On intersectionality, and This Bridge Called My Back”

Juana María Rodriguez

  • Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley
  • Focuses on queer Latinidad as discussed in the reading.
  • Very receptive to folks reading her work: @RadioRodriguez
  • First read her Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings (NYU Press 2014)
  • Our selection comes from her Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (NYU Press, 2003)




A simple dictionary definition, this time from

  1. a set or system of methods, principles, and rules for regulating given discipline, as in the arts or sciences.
  2. Philosophy- the underlying principles and rules of organization of philosophical system or inquiry procedure 
  3. the study of the principles underlying the organization of the various sciences and the conduct of scientific inquiry.
  4. Education- a branch of pedagogics dealing with analysis and evaluation of subjects to be taught and of the methods of teaching them.

Applying it to academia, we may think of the methodologies used to write a social science paper. Check out this library guide description from University of South California:

The methods section describes actions to be taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analyzed? The writing should be direct and precise and always written in the past tense.

What were the methodologies that Lugones and Rodriguez utilized, or theorized? Why?

What did you learn from reading these pieces? What would you say is their thesis?

What can you say about their citation practices?


For Thursday (2.22), read Chela Sandoval et al, and Mercedes Sosa. Write a short reflection (~250 words) on the theory that you will apply to your object of study for the midterm.

Mestiza Consciousness

Merriam-Webster’s Definition of Theory

plural theories

1plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena 

  • the wave theory of light
2a a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action 

  • her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn
b an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances often used in the phrase in theory 

  • in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all
3a a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation
b an unproved assumption conjecture
c a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject 

  • theory of equations
4the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art 

  • music theory
5abstract thought speculation
6the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another

A Meta-Understanding of Theory

Accepting that theory is used differently depending on the purpose of the author, we can focus on how theory is made. Not just what, but how.

  • What does Anzaldúa say about culture? Homophobia? Mestizas?
  • In what ways does Gloria Anzaldúa develop her borderlands theory? What can you say about her style? What do you think the serpent represents?

Write a short reflection on the process of reading Gloria Anzaldúa’s work. 

Applying Borderland/Mestiza Consciousness Theories

We should remember that this course has taken an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Latina Feminist Theories. What academic disciplines have we covered?

A sociologist, Katie Acosta develops an empirical account of Latina “Lesbianas in the Borderlands” and how their race, class, and sexuality identities shift in the process of migration and the (imagined) communities they inhabit. To introduce her topic, she refers to “structural barriers” that have been addressed in previous research about migrant women (641). Ultimately, she presents the stories of 15 Latina lesbians, and how they imagine themselves in the borderlands, enacting a kind of mestiza consciousness.

“Borderlands are physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch, where the space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy” (Anzaldúa 19, quoted in Acosta 651).

Important points Acosta covers:

  • Latinx families’ “heteronormative lens” and “silence” (649)
  • “multiple and shifting nature of racial and sexual identities in the borderlands” (650)
  • “imagined communities” as spaces needed because of the “Shadow Beast”
  • borderlands as “home to the marginalized” though “not entirely egalitarian spaces” (652).
  • “tensions involving divergent nationalities” (653) but “less ‘othered’ in these spaces” (654).

For Thursday– Read from This Bridge: 
✓ Gloria Anzaldúa- “Speaking in Tongues”

✓Mirtha Quintanales- “I Came with No Illusions” & “I Paid Very Hard for My Immigrant

Write a synthesis of Anzaldúa and Quintanales and how they refer to the concept of a Third World Woman and/or Woman of Color feminist. Include a claim at the beginning that you support with your synthesis.

  • Bring your list of three potential areas of study for your midterm.