CFP: Gender, Sexuality, and Performance in Latin America and the Caribbean

Brenda Werth's picture

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Call for Papers
May 10, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Theatre & Performance History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

As evidenced in the public nature of movements such as #NiUnaMenos, Argentina’s “Green Wave,” and the phenomenon of “Un violador en tu camino,” introduced by the Chilean performance group Lastesis, gender and sexuality are gaining public attention in Latin America in new ways, and performance is proving an important method of activism and engagement in the public sphere. At the same time, these collective actions call attention to their continuities with performative genealogies and historical legacies throughout the twentieth century, and even earlier, as Latin America has witnessed some of the earliest feminist movements in the Western Hemisphere (see Katherine Marino 2019; Elisabeth Friedman 2019; Rita Laura Segato 2016). In this volume, we seek to take stock of the current interweave of activism, performance, and gender and sexuality politics in the Americas. In addition to examining the innovative ways in which activists and artists are employing performative practices to advocate for rights related to gender and sexuality, we discuss how the regime of the right, buttressed by the Catholic Church and the Evangelical movement, and embodied perhaps most exemplarily by Brazil’s Bolsonaro, has adopted public practices to denounce the so-called “gender ideology” of the left and reinforce patriarchal hierarchies and heteronormative models of gender and family.

We also hope where possible to point to continuities with or divergences from the legacies inscribed in texts such as Diana Taylor’s Disappearing Acts and Holy Terrors: Latin American Women Perform (1997). As Diana Taylor’s groundbreaking research has shown, the gendered and sexual displays of Cold War politics in Latin America and the Caribbean are intertwined with performances - whether “disappearing acts,” “theatre(s) of crisis,” “bad scripts,” or spectacular modes and scenarios of performing gender and sexuality. In this text and others, including Jean Franco’s pioneering works on Latin American women authors, gender is paramount in ways that both resonate with and depart from the current moment’s political movements and key figures. Important studies, including Jean Graham-Jones’s Evita, Inevitably (2015), have allowed us further insight into the function of women leaders (de jure and de facto) during Latin America’s history, inviting us to examine the intersection between gender politics and populism and to consider the performance of hyper-masculinity and femininity in the portrayals of iconic figures such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Eva Perón.

While feminist histories have done the important work of denouncing the sometimes essentialist ideas of “true womanhood,” the “good mother,” or the virgin/whore dialectic, perspectives from indigenous feminisims have traditionally been overlooked (Julieta Paredes 2013; Aída Castillo Hernández 2010), and LGBTQ communities have only recently begun to be included in the public mobilizations against gender violence and in support of gender, sexuality and reproductive rights (Nacho Alonso, Juliana Martínez and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz 2018; Cecilia Sosa 2014). We hope that this volume will express the complexities, tensions, contradictions, and possibilities of gender and sexual politics of and in performance in the Americas.

Aiming for balanced regional coverage, we hope to include case studies spanning Latin America and the Caribbean and in dialogue with Latinx diasporic communities in the United States and Canada. We invite essays that attend to the historicity of gender and sexual justice movements, as well as their rootedness in theatre and performance practices. We also welcome papers revisiting canonical primary and secondary material on gender, sexuality, and performance in light of current events. Each essay will be 6000-7000 words, including notes and bibliography.

Chapters that address the following themes are particularly welcome:

  1. Contemporary social movements in gender and sexuality: we welcome consideration of these movements, as well as how one defines and evaluates the efficacy of social movements now.

  2. Spectacles of gender violence: what is the role of spectacular gendered violence in normalizing or disrupting the patriarchy? What are continuing ethical dilemmas of aestheticizing violence, on and offstage? What is the relationship between mainstream media, activism and gender violence?

  3. Acts of revising the canon, shifting focus to and re-evaluating overlooked themes of gender and sexuality in theatrical traditions and movements (e.g., the grotesque, the avant-garde, documentary theater).

  4. Mobile and digital forms of activism: caravans, transnational exchanges; remapping, re- gendering space and time; gender and memory work.

  5. The historicization of human rights, feminism, and gender and sexuality activism in Latin America’s public sphere; influences across movements: Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; caravanas’ mother-activism, Cuba’s Damas de Blanco, memory and gender, devotion as activism.

  6. The transnational as a space of exception; the planetary; bare life; Butler’s concept of dispossession; the idea of “no [person’s] land.” Performance as a possible complement or supplement to legal justice; performance as compensatory in the absence of legal justice.

  7. Intersectionality within these movements: race, class, and intergenerational relationships.

  8. Creation of new publics (and public spaces) through performance - and the place of gender and sexuality in this process.

  9. The persistence of paradigms of the heteronormative family in activism: are we working with the same scripts and roles even amid changing conditions? How are the scripts changing? How do both the left and right use these scripts to intervene in the public sphere?

  10. Risk: in what ways are gender and sexual performances putting bodies on the line? In what ways can we protect and keep safe the bodies performing this dangerous labor? What are the biopolitics of current manifestations of gender and sexuality activism in Latin America?

Procedure for submission: Please submit a 200-250 word abstract to both editors by May 10, 2020:

Contact Info: 

Katherine Zien, McGill University:

Brenda Werth, American University:

Contact Email: 
Categories: CFP