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CLACS Lecture Series. “Trans Aesthetics of Negative Performance: Black Hemispheric Latinx Americas”

Event Type
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)
2043 Lincoln Hall, 702 S. South Wright Street, Urbana IL 61801
Sep 20, 2021   3:00 pm  
Dr. Xiomara Verenice Cervantes-Gómez, Assistant Professor of Latin American Literatures and Culture, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Originating Calendar
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

This talk engages in a hemispheric trans of color experiment in Latin American cultural studies. While filming the clipe oficial of the transgender Brazilian funk artist Linn da Quebrada’s “Oração” (2019), an unexpected performance of the emergence of violent interventions of power as police arrived to shut down the video shoot. Dr. Cervantes-Gómez contends that the Black trans body always already appears as both a threat and symptom of the State’s abuse against marginalized populations, especially for transgender women of color. Despite city permits in hand to film at the abandoned ruins of a church, Linn and her team were instructed to not only cease and disperse, but to erase all their footage. Yet, we find the police find themselves captured in the act in this music video to a song about worship: entre oração entre ereção, entre bixa entre bruxa. Interfacing with theories of race and negativity, this paper studies this emotional clipe through the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of the performance of travesty worship. Linn da Quebrada’s “Oração” delicately brings together a beautiful and radical coven of transgender Afro-Brazilian women, the aesthetics of Brazil’s candomblé, contemporary dance, and the visibility of the State’s power. Accordingly, Dr. Cervantes-Gómez explores how the spectral presence of candomblé in this clipe performs a racialized resistance against a State power that chases the transgender body. 

Dr. Xiomara Verenice Cervantes-Gómez is Assistant Professor in Latin American Literatures and Cultures in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also an active faculty affiliate in the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Latina/Latino Studies, Religion, and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. As a trans queer and performance theorist, Dr. Cervantes-Gómez’s work attends to the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of the body, sex, and performance. She researches across and beyond Latin American and Latinx cultural studies, Black studies, queer theory, performance studies, contemporary art, and continental philosophy. Transdisciplinary in nature, she is the author of Pasivo: Risks of Exposure in Bottom Mexicanness Performance. She is also currently working on two book projects: Thinking for Trans of Color Negativity and Latin Remix: A Black and Brown Mixtape for Queers of Color. Cervantes-Gómez currently serves on the editorial board of Women & Language and recently served as Co-Chair of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Sexualities Studies Section. She’s been invited to give talks internationally, including at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Harvard University, and Northwestern University. She is also co-host of Me Gusta La T, a Spanish podcast by two trans Latina women and their experiences with today’s most pressing social issues. Twitter: @xiosays

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