Current Events



Date: Mon. 18 Sep, 2017 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The Latin American Studies Program
is proud to present a new JHI working group titled 

Rethinking Latin American Racial Technologies
through the Twenty-First Century 

Discontinuities Pattern

This working group takes as its starting point the dilemma of contemporary racialization in the Americas as a complex series of practices defined by both regional and national histories of coloniality, and by more recent tendencies tied to patterns of democratization and international human rights movements. Since the 1990s, the increased coordination of anti-racist, feminist, indigenous and related movements in international fora such as the United Nations have worked to challenge established constructions of nationhood, create new institutions tasked with the inclusion of previously excluded categories of people, collect statistics that portray populations as diverse, and add new media representations that challenge prevailing aesthetic and cultural frameworks.          

Yet colonial legacies and practices defined by historically encoded and visual epistemologies continue to overlay contemporary (and earlier, post-independence) experiences of individual, collective rights and emplaced ontologies, albeit in fragmented or inconsistent ways. A major sticking point for Latin American postcolonial theory has been the fact that national independence and its related aesthetic and political projects--ie hybridity and mestizaje among others--were founded upon and in many cases continue to operate through material and symbolic violence against indigenous peoples and the descendants of African slaves. Similarly, it may be argued that more recent transregional discourses of rights and the statistical data upon which they depend tend to promulgate a Western and exclusionary model of universal justice.

If these are familiar stories, they nonetheless bear revisiting through fine-grained and transdisciplinary perspectives, as one of the overarching goals of our group is to consider to what extent narratives, material experiences, and techniques of racialization (explored in our respective research projects) sustain broader readings of coloniality; and yet also to what degree detailed attention to "racial technologies" within specific historical and geopolitical locations allow for more nuanced analyses of discursive, artistic, economic, religious and political practices. With the term "racial technologies" we refer to a common understanding of the malleability of race as category, as well as race/racialization as a tool and a practice through which bodies, histories and identities are experienced and known. We borrow here from the work of Peter Wade, Beth Coleman, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Mónica Moreno Figueroa and others. “Technology” in this case does not imply that we focus uniquely on the role of the sciences or the work of machines in the construction of race as experience and practice, though for some group members the role of science is of specific interest in this work. Rather, we focus on notions of technique and practice in order to explore modalities of cause and effect, exploitation and resistance, through which race reveals both its tenacity and its discontinuities.

The group will meet once every three weeks to discuss readings and workshop our writing. We are discussing plans to invite a visiting speaker for the spring semester.

The group will meet once a month to discuss the research and scholarship in progress of group members. Our first meeting will be Monday, September 18th, 2:00-4:00 pm 

Confirmed group members:

  • Susan Antebi, Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  • Luisa Schwartzman, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
  • Valentina Napolitano, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Victor Rivas, Senior Lecturer III, Latin American Studies Program
  • Sharlene Mollett, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Geography and Centre for Critical Development Studies
  • Roxana Escobar Nuñez, PhD Student, Department of Geography
  • Fernando Calderón Figueroa, PhD Student, Department of Sociology
  • Tania Ruiz-Chapman, PhD Student, Social Justice Education Program, OISE
  • Maria Soledad Zabalza, PhD Student, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  • Alexandra González Jiménez, Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Anthropology
  • Gillian McGillivray, Associate Professor, Department of History, York University

There is no registration for this event. All are welcome.