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(Dis)Plazas and (Dis)Placed Danzas: Space, Trauma, and Moving Bodies in Mexico City


Through an interdisciplinary lens, my dissertation examines how painters (Frida Kahlo in the 1920s-50s), installation/performance artists (Proceso Pentágono in the late 1960s-early 1970s), choreographers (danza callejera in the mid 1980-1990s), and activists (PosMeSalto in 2013) respond to crisis in pivotal moments of Mexico City’s postrevolutionary history through embodied, social and metaphoric movement. Mapping the city’s multiple spatial constraints that structure movement, I show how these artists and activists choreographically and performatively resist, are supported by, and disrupt violent structural limitations to their mobility. Examining how these subjects negotiate the constraints of state power in Mexico City involves troubling stable borders between binaries such as threat and security, public and private, male and female, mobility and immobility. Foregrounding choreography and improvised dance as a metaphor for resistant urban politics in Mexico City, I make an intervention into site-specific theory, space theory, trauma studies, and feminist theory. Locating these discourses within the context of postrevolutionary Mexico City alters the terrain upon which many of these dialogues have rested. Employing multidisciplinary methodologies from dance, critical dance studies, performance studies, visual arts theory, and trauma theory, I bridge important disciplinary gaps by explaining site-specificity as inherently choreographic and performative, and political activism as site-specific choreography. These urban Mexican works resonate with, complicate, and nuance similar radical artistic movements within the Western art canon.

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