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Afro-Latinx Futurism: A History of Black and Brown Arts from 1781–2018


This dissertation project identifies the anti-colonial and anti-racist traditions that Black and Brown Angelenos have created, specifically the artworks expressing cultural pride and solidarity with each other. While other scholars have looked at Black and Latina/o/x Los Angeles together, few have looked at the trends and traditions within visual culture and art history. This particular intervention is historical, but also builds from the contemporary moment we live in, where underpaid school teachers have been striking en masse, where women are proclaiming #TimesUp, where Black Lives Matter is ushering perhaps the largest social movement in U.S. history, and still, the movement continues to grow all over the world. Furthermore, this dissertation has been informed by the COVID-19 crisis, which deeply and disproportionately impacts housing, employment, health outcomes and many other factors for people of color, especially Native Peoples, African Americans and Latinx folks in the U.S. As a way to reframe this political moment of pandemics, social injustice, and consciousness raising, I freedom dream through Afro-Latinx Futurism, a concept I offer that empowers Black, Latinx and Afro-Latinx people to center pleasure, rest, and joy as a visual practice in the arts and an important expression of liberation. Together, this project will forge a new history of the past by offering analysis of artworks, but also, moments when people lived, fought and created together. In some cases, I will highlight works of art that were not exactly made together, or directly in conversation with the other, but still work within a constellation of struggle against US imperialism and white supremacy. I have conducted participatory observation fieldwork, interviews, investigated archives, made maps via Emoji Mapping and Social Explorer; I offer visual and historical analysis to demonstrate the social realities that Black and Brown creative communities have forged for the past 237 years in what is now Los Angeles.

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