Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Abjection and Performance: an article and a response

I am sure the specialists in the fields of Latino Studies and Queer Theory have read these by now, but for those of us with a more generalist interest in ethnic studies, it makes for an interesting piece of reading. In my other life as an English Studies major, a life I somehow have not totally left, one of my budding areas of interest was performance studies. What can I say, I had an excellent and inspirational professor back then. At any rate, I still do some writing in literary studies and do the occasional conference, so I read as widely as I can. Maybe I should not call it my other life, since being a scholar is still a part of me (I note I am not in a faculty position, so I am not required to publish, but I am certainly allowed and welcome to do so. Which is nice, I can explore other writings and do some scholarship without pressure). It at times seems so different from what I do now though.

These short pieces caught my eye for a couple of reasons. One, because in the first one, the author is setting up a proposal for a line of study. He is using his own experience to explore how the queer Latino body enacts and brings forth a performance of identity, where identity is not consistent. Professor Sandoval states that "as a Latino gay man with AIDS and as a scholar, there is no way I can draw a line between my body and my scholarship: my body pushes me to the limits, my writing always makes me put into practice the interdependency between body and mind" (543). In the process of articulating what he would like to investigate, he makes a performance that integrates poetry as well as his own experience. The second piece is a response to the first piece, and the author poses some further questions to explore. Professor Larson offers an explanation of what Professor Sandoval is doing. She writes: ""But what we have experienced here today is not just the presentation of a theory or a politics of survival through abjection but an example of abjection as a performative act in the disruption of the typically dry academic conference or symposium paper, with the inclusion of autobiographical information and a short performance in Spanglish, a language that always seems to remind me that identity is constantly in the process of being made" (550). Second, I liked the idea of the academic conversation that seems to be taking place, which can be an example I could use with students to illustrate the idea of the academic conversation.

The articles are available through Project Muse for those who may have access to that resource.

Sandoval-Sánchez, Alberto. "Politicizing Abjection: In the Manner of a Prologue for the Articulation of AIDS Latino Queer Identities." American Literary History 17.3 (2005): 542-549.

Larson, Susan. "New Avenues for the Politics of the Abject." American Literary History 17.3 (2005): 550-552.

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