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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Resisting Spatial Dispossession: Contemporary and Historic Performative Irruptions in California and Louisiana

  • Author(s): Welch, Kimberly Chantal
  • Advisor(s): Metzger, Sean A
  • et al.
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“Resisting Spatial Dispossession: Contemporary and Historic Performative Irruptions in California and Louisiana” focuses on the symbolic and material spatial dispossession of primarily black Americans in California and Louisiana. Using the migratory patterns of the Great Migration as a framework to explore the relationship between historic and contemporary dissident spatial practices in the carceral state, my project seeks to illuminate complex performances of race, gender, and sexuality that often fall out of or never make it into the archive.

Anchored in black feminist thought and spanning four distinct mediums (theater, film, photography, and music), “Resisting Spatial Dispossession” explores the role media plays in spatial dispossession narratives, particularly ones around and about black female subjects. Chapter one links the Los Angeles Poverty Department’s (LAPD) theatrical representation of prison spaces with gendered experiences in Skid Row to illustrate the ways in which gender conditions spatial practice. Chapter two interrogates how the gendered specter helps us rethink the relationship between visibility, gender, and violence in sites of spatial dispossession as well as actor/spectator dynamics. through an exploration of We Just Telling Stories, a documentary on Rhodessa Jones’ “Medea Project: Theater for Incarceration.” Chapter three uses Beasts of the Southern Wild (Zeitlin, 2012) and People’s photograph-heavy “Katrina Girl” series to examine narratives that call upon black girls to produce an imagined future grounded in the reproduction of a structure hostile to black life. Chapter four focuses on Amy LaCour’s transformation of poetry written by African American women during the Great Migration into music and the ways in which LaCour addresses complicated notions of black female sexuality and transhistoric, multiplanar gendered violence. “Resisting Spatial Dispossession” reveals the productiveness of utilizing black feminist epistemologies to chart performance as a cartographic tool in the mapping of spatial dispossession and the accompanying dissident responses.

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This item is under embargo until June 14, 2020.