(De)Generations: Reimagining Communities

Thursday, September 22, 2011
"The Making Of Monster Girls: Media Making and the Intersections of Art, Race, Class & Ethnicity"
Erika Lopez, Monster Girl Media
(4 p.m. reception; 4:30 p.m. lecture)*

Narratives of success in the US “art world” by women rarely provide an honest portrayal of the struggles and challenges women, queer women of color, and working class queer women of color experience. This presentation will offer a discussion on the failures and lessons learned from a first person perspective by Erika Lopez, author, artist, and media maker. Discussing the trajectory of being offered a book deal by a major publisher to creating and developing an independent publishing company with inter/national distribution, and all of the adventures in between; Lopez will share her evolution as an artist, woman artist, queer woman of color artist, queer working class woman of color artist living in the US to Monster Girl.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
"'No Woman No Cry': Bob and Rita Marley, Jamaican Decolonization, and the Black (Hetero)Sexual Relation"
Michelle Stephens, Rutgers
(4 p.m. reception; 4:30 p.m. lecture)

In my talk I will explore the different meanings we might attach to Bob Marley’s musical legacy, both in terms of the live versus recorded nature of his continued prominence in the First World after his death, and in the erasure of his real-life, gendered, intimate relations with Rita Marley and his other female counterparts during his life and career. Here I turn to the black soundscape of Jamaica that emerges in the 1970s, exploring the voice as an echo, as a medium through which to rediscover the meaning of blackness as human, sexuated flesh, and the meaning of that flesh in the context of a newly imagined, national, community. The incorporeal Marley, re-read in the context of his real intimate relations and their impact on his decolonized black male subjectivity while he was alive, is articulated in Rita Marley’s echoing of his voice in her recent autobiographical account of their musical marriage. Their black love letter, the duet, becomes a trope for the black Word re-made as flesh, the recovery of an intimate form of black discourse, the sexual language of a decolonizing black unconscious.

In addition, however, and in line with the seminar’s focus on “representations and meanings of belonging and non-belonging implied in genealogies and generations,” Marley’s musical discourse was representative of a diachronic history of race, colonialism, war and politics defining black Jamaican subjects’ relations with others outside their black nation, newly independent in 1962. In “Society Must Be Defended” Foucault outlines the genealogy of this discourse in his discussion of the discourse of race war. As much as the notions of Jamaican belonging and non-belonging inspired by Marley’s lyrics reflect Foucault’s genealogy, Marley’s embodied performance implied an intersecting set of prescriptions and regulations on the behavior of black bodies in intimate relation with each other, within the nation. These prescriptions and regulations are as important to tease out as Marley’s liberatory discourse, especially since they have persisted across generations, governing the musical language ad embodied performances of Jamaican masculinity performed by Marley’s sons. My discussion explores these connections between the black sexual relation, the black family and generations, and the imagining of decolonial political community in the specific context of a newly independent, decolonizing Jamaica.

Thursday, November 10, 2011
"Frontiers and Barriers in Online Feminism"
Alexandra Juhasz, Pitzer College
(4 p.m. reception; 4:30 p.m. lecture)**

What are the obstacles to entry when we try to re-imagine feminist communities online? Why do the vast digital frontiers often feel like a sea of bigoted barriers? Are older generations of feminists leading, or even interacting with younger women online? Do the ideals and theories of past feminist generations adequately name our needs in this new environment? Feminists have fought for visibility, safety, and equality, a set of demands that are both somehow too present and yet also unimaginable on the Internet. In her talk, Alexandra Juhasz will discuss the strong cultural, economic, and inter-generational forcefields creating unexpected online borders. She will share lessons learned from her born-digital, free, online video-book Learning From YouTube (MIT Press, 2011), as well as an earlier career in community-based, activist, feminist media. Juhasz will consider how we repurpose social media away from corporate banality toward “ThirdTube”: user-generated, simple-in-form, complex-in-thought, media about the material of daily life not beholden to corporate media, culture, and products.

Thursday, February 23, 2012
"Reframing the Family, Reframing the Region: Queer Diasporic Genealogies"
Gayatri Gopinath, New York University
(4 p.m. reception; 4:30 p.m. lecture)***

This paper explores the place, and the placelessness, of queerness by turning to the work of contemporary queer South Asian diasporic visual artists. Queerness is certainly about being in place, where the particularities and peculiarities of place inform sexual and gendered logics. But queerness is also about being out of place, of being lost in the landscape of heteronormativity. In much of the queer art practices that I look at, an engagement with these questions of place and queerness is routed through the autobiographical on the one hand, and the regional on the other. For these artists, the autobiographical opens up alternative byways that veer away from developmental and assimilationist narratives of both gay and national formation. Indeed we can read this work as forms of queer memoir and memorialization, ones that trace the formation of a queer self through alternative genealogies that work against the standard logic of descent and filiation proscribed within heteronormative notions of blood, family and kinship. The region, as an othered space within national consciousness, plays a crucial role in the revisioning of personal and collective histories, so there is a dialectical relation between the autobiographical and the regional that I trace here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012
"Generations of LGBT Parents in the Courts"
Carlos Ball, Rutgers
(4 p.m. reception; 4:30 p.m. lecture)

In their struggles to form and maintain relationships with their children, LGBT individuals in the United States have often turned to the courts. This lecture will provide a historical overview of how courts have responded to the parental claims of LGBT individuals. In doing so, the talk will highlight the particular challenges faced by lesbian mothers in the 1970s fighting for child custody over the objections of former husbands; by gay fathers in the 1980s seeking to overcome AIDS-related stigma; by same-sex couples in the 1990s struggling to show that their relationships of intimacy did not preclude them from being good parents; and by transsexual parents in the early twenty-first century questioning traditional assumptions about the link between gender and parenting.

Thursday, April 12, 2012
"Generation, Degeneration, Miscegenation"
César Braga-Pinto, Northwestern University
(4 p.m. reception; 4:30 p.m. lecture)

Focusing on the cases of Brazil and the U.S., this presentation proposes to articulate the role played by gender representations in debates around miscegenation in the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Generation, understood in its vertical, genealogical, reproductive aspect is one of the most contested issues in the late 19th century both in Brazil and the U.S., and it is always haunted by miscegenation and the threat of degeneration. This paper aims to understand how horizontal calls for the formation of a new generation (in the sense of brotherhood, nationality, contemporaneity and intellectual-literary communities) in the beginning of the 20th century struggles to resolve the pessimism associated with mixed-race subjects and communities.

**Erika Lopez’s talk and performance are co-sponsored by the Associate Vice President for Academic and Public Partnerships in the Arts and Humanities, Douglass Residential College, the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies, the Center for Latino Arts and Culture and the Institute for Women and Art.

***Alexandra Juhasz’s talk is co-sponsored by Douglass Residential College and the Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA) in conjunction with their 2011-2012 Theme - Technologies Without Borders: Technologies Across Borders.

***Gayatri Gopinath’s talk is co-sponsored by the Collective for Asian American Scholarship.

All lectures are held at the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building, 162 Ryders Lane, Douglass Campus, Rutgers-New Brunswick and are free and open to the public.



2011-2012 IRW Distinguished Lecture Series Poster
2010-2012 Distinguished Lecture Series Schedule (.pdf)