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Migrant Figures: Visual Embodiments of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary US Central American-Latinx Culture

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Migrant Figures: Visual Embodiments of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in US Central American-Latinx Culture argues that twenty-first-century migrant figures visually embody the ideological complexities undergirding the present-day US immigration crisis. My interdisciplinary and multimedia cultural study sutures together migrant figures depicted in post-1980s literature, film, and visual art emerging across Central American, Mexican, Caribbean, and North American cultural contexts. Through readings of Carlos Guillermo Wilson’s novel Chombo (1981), Edwidge Danticat’s fictional and nonfictional writing, Cary Fukunaga’s film Sin Nombre (2009), Diego Quemada-Díez’s film La Jaula de Oro (2013), Marc Silver’s documentary Who is Dayani Crystal? (2014), and Beatriz Cortez’s performance piece “No Cages No Jaulas” (2020), I demonstrate how migrant figures constellate visual embodiments of meaning entwined with politicized migrant subjectivities. Drawing upon feminist and queer materialist thought, my project’s visual reading practice of “embodied perception” traces a “politics of dis/embodiment” in which migrant figures visually de/materialize through co-constituted racial, gendered, and sexual processes. Grating against Western liberal renderings of a unified human migrant subjectivity, I argue for the need to ground cultural and theoretical investigations of migrant culture in frameworks that emerge from embodied forms of knowledge practices. Understood as a relational ontology, the migrant figure houses alternative affective, material, and social affinities that expand the conceptual perimeters of race, gender, sexuality, immigration, and citizenship and the epistemic parameters of US Central American and Latinx studies. This project makes significant interventions in visual studies, intersectional thought, and cultural politics of migration.

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This item is under embargo until February 1, 2025.