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Emi Sawada: "Kali and the Quetzal"

Event Type
Asian American Studies Department
1208 W Nevada St, Urbana
wifi event
Feb 16, 2024   3:00 pm  
Originating Calendar
Asian American Studies

In this talk, Emi Sawada will read canonical histories of diaspora and labor migration against the grain to demonstrate how contemporary artist Meera Desai and her collaborators challenge the conditions of a US empire that thrives on the production of ghost mothers—figures who comprise neither human nor nonhuman beings but are crucial to the expansion of the imperial project. In creating the alternative archive of Maestrapeace (1992-4), a mural on the San Francisco Women’s Building, these artists act as spirit mediums who conjure absented South Asian and Mexican Indigenous mothers into concrete presence as Kali and the quetzal, Hindu and Mesoamerican deities. Furthermore, these mediums materialize one of the traces that these absented mothers have left behind: the body of the mixed-race child. In deciphering this archive, Sawada will ultimately propose another theory of gender and the human, as well as a visual methodology that she calls clairvoyant vision, for the study of US empire and its aesthetic critique.

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