Saturday, October 27, 2007

Your Own Personal Jesús: San Antonio and Jesus' Brown Latino Body?

Hundreds of devoted Latino church-goers in San Antonio, Texas, turned out for the unveiling of the city's first brown Jesús.

Depeche Mode's Chicanesca cultural intervention "Your Own Personal Jesus" brought Mexicaneity to post-pubescent heights of legitimation for me in high school. I loved the song for what I thought it represented as much as for its ability to conjure what passed for cool at the time. And how could I not inherit such impoverished imaginings when even our own present is still debating how best to render mythologies of religious origins in hues of brown? Freud's Moses and Monotheism (1939) still has a thing or two to say about Christianity's obsession with the literal referent as opposed to, say, Judaism's conceptual recourse to "the idea," but he's not supposed to be cool to read anymore. I'm glad I don't care as much about cool as I did when "Your Own Personal Jesus" meant more than it should have, and for all the wrong reasons. Still, though the Sergio Leone parody by David Gaham might have gone unnoticed, even by Gaham himself, it strikes me as phat today. Is it ever possible to get away from cool?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Juana María Rodríguez

Media Credit: Shannon Carroll

A student of mine, Diva Divina (stage name), decided to skip out and stay in Boston for some quality casa time and to attend the "Fifth Annual Queer Studies Scholar Lecture" at Tufts University. There she had the opportunity to witness the incomparable Juana María Rodríguez in action. She gave a talk related to her new book project, Queering Domesticity. DD, any video of the event?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

American Cultural Memory Delivered Courtesy of U.S. Postal Service

The 1947 federal court case Mendez v. Westminster School District determined that the segregation of Mexican and Mexican American students into separate "Mexican schools" was unconstitutional. Mendez v. Westminster set the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education. Brown v. Board of Education is generally credited with desegregating schools across the nation in the landmark 1954 decision that ruled that segregation was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A new stamp memorializes the Mendez v. Westminster case sixty years after that momentous decision. Enhorabuena would be an exaggeration.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Curricular Inclusion and the Latina/o Body Politic

I was reminded this past week about how important it is for many Latina/o students to see themselves reflected in the social mirror the academy both reflects and refracts. After a symposium on The Futures of Latina/o Studies at Bryn Mawr College, and the American Studies Association Conference here in Philly, I'm reminded about a lesson I learned from Walter Benjamin's "The Author as Producer" on how institutions can "assimilate astonishing quantities of revolutionary themes," and the various performances thereof, without calling into question "the existence of the class that owns it [...]." The ASA theme this year was "América Aquí: Transhemispheric Visions and Community Connections" and, I must say, the quality of some of the sessions I attended was superb, even as the program guide elided accent marks, and the topics themselves registered diversity in the stacatto rhythms of monolingualism. So what happens when the conditions under which inclusion is granted rests on the contingencies associated with proper form? My own students are grappling with this question as they untangle local and administrative histories of what Doris Sommer, in another context, called the democratic drive of "slaps and embraces." Larger academic institutions are providing, wittingly or not, the template from which to register Latina/o inclusion in the curriculum and into the communities the academy seeks to represent. The UNC-Chapel Hill Undergraduate Minor in Latina/o Studies provides one such template. Please send others as I compile my list for Mujeres along with related possibilities for course offerings.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ocular Evidence: Race, Skin and the Student Body Politic

(Photo, Tierney Gearon for The New York Times)
New York Times Magazine, By DAVID LEONHARDT, "The New Affirmative Action"

Proposition 209, which outlawed "preferential" treatment based on color, race, ethnicity or national origin (The Latino Body, pg. 100), dealt a blow to what used to be known and "Affirmative Action." The UC system is fighting back.