I. Lorgia García Peña
I am a first-generation Dominican Latinx Studies scholar from Trenton, NJ. I study blackness, colonialism, and diaspora with a special focus on dominicanidades.
My approach to dominicanidad [Latinx Studies] comes from a very personal intellectual questioning of the multiple ways in which silences and repetitions operate in the erasure of racialized Dominican [Latinx] subjects from the nation(s) and its archive(s). Those silences are often filled with fantasies that reflect colonial desires and fears that in turn cement exclusion. My book [work], in many ways, interrupts historical silences by recovering and historicizing dominicanidad [Latinx Studies] through what I call contradictions, “dictions”—stories, narratives, and speech acts—that go against the hegemonic version of national identity and against the mode of analysis we tend to value as historically accurate or what most people call truth.-Lorgia García Peña, Repeating Islands
Non-essential Knowledge: Latinx Studies in Times of COVID-19
García Peña understands Ethnic Studies — Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Islamic — as an articulation for an anti-colonial, anti-white supremacist space of knowledge production and learning.
She uses Arthur Schomburg, the black Puerto Rican scholar, and bibliophile, to discuss how “his experience with race, migration, and unbelonging are relevant to many of us who identify as Black or brown Latinx today. Whether born in the U.S. or elsewhere, our racialized bodies, our Hispanic last names, our accents, and our immigrant experiences continue to exclude many of us from Americanness: We are Latinx, Latina/os, and in this country, in this political climate, that is a mark of unbelonging and exclusion.
In Schomburg’s work, she sees hope and optimism: “he saw that the only way to a future of ‘racial integrity’ was through transnational forms of anti-colonial solidarity grounded on knowledge, on history, on the possibility of another way of learning.”
García Peña shares her experience teaching Latinx Studies and comments on the importance of “creating spaces for survival and community within the colonial, violent structures of higher education” which continues to conceive Latinx lives, Latinx knowledge, Latinx faculty, and Latinx students as non-essential, as extras.
II. Frances Negrón-Muntaner in Conversation with Sophia Johnson
Frances Negrón-Muntaner is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, curator, scholar, and professor at Columbia University. Among her books and publications are: Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture (CHOICE Award, 2004), The Latino Media Gap (2014), and Sovereign Acts: Contesting Colonialism in Native Nations and Latinx America (2017). Her most recent films include Small City, Big Change (2013), War for Guam (2015), and Life Outside (2016).
In this interview with Sophia Johnson, Frances Negrón-Muntaner discusses the cultural contribution of Latinxs and defines central concepts to Latinx and Caribbean Studies like colonialism, coloniality, and debt. Negrón-Muntaner explores too how coloniality has an effect on beauty standards and Latina/o/x representation in U.S. media. She goes over the debate about identity labels and looks at current inter-Latinx relationships and political challenges.