Creative Agency: The Politics and Tactics of Modern Youth Movements

Thursday, February 5, 2015
12:30pm – 1:45pm
Race Conference Room, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. David Ortiz, Department of Sociology, Tulane University

Formação de Agentes Culturais da Juventude Negra em Minas Gerais
Kelly Cardozo, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

A abordagem da emancipação como condição essencial à preservação e expressão da identidade cultural tem sido uma discussão ativa nos movimentos socioculturais no Brasil nos últimos anos. A motivação pelo debate tem sido relevante principalmente entre a juventude negra brasileira devido ao alto índice de violência e a ausência de sentimento de pertencimento e cidadania. Portanto, esta comunicação é pautada no Núcleo de Formação de Agentes Culturais da Juventude Negra – NUFAC-MG, com objetivo de dialogar ferramentas de emancipação como forma de suportar o resgate da expressão de identidade do indivíduo e de como essas ferramentas contribuem para transformar a comunidade local. Para tanto, utilizou-se o processo de formação na área cultural através de cursos de qualificação profissional para jovens em cinco cidades de Minas Gerais, Brasil. A implantação do Núcleo teve, também, o objetivo de cumprir as diretrizes formuladas pelo Fórum Nacional dos Direitos da Cidadania e a Fundação Cultural Palmares (idealizadora e financiadora), sendo executado pelo Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável – IEDS e a Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG. Os cursos buscaram o fortalecimento da identidade negra dos jovens, através de metodologia “Perspectiva sócio construtivista importante que as experiências dos alunos na escola estão conectados com o mundo fora da sala de aula” (Santrock, 2011). Com a duração de 10 meses, aulas específicas, práticas e visitas técnicas interativas, além de abordar a temática étnico-racial como expressão de identidade. O projeto contribuiu para o desenvolvimento da consciência crítica, e ampliar o debate sobre a inclusão do negro e suas manifestações nas esferas político-econômico e social. Os resultados alcançados foram, a inserção desses jovens ao mercado de trabalho, através construção de parcerias envolvendo todos os stakeholders, além de estimular a continuidade da formação em diferentes níveis. E a criação de uma instituição Não-governamental pelos alunos para multiplicação das habilidades adquiridas.

Juventudes e contemporaneidade: As mídias sociais como nova forma de manejo da sociabilidade
Aline Corrêa Maia Lima, Pontifícia Católica do Rio de Janeiro

Em tempos de mudanças políticas, econômicas e socioculturais aceleradas, são muitas – e também voláteis – as possibilidades apresentadas aos sujeitos. A valorização do imediato e a ética da experimentação parecem ser as norteadoras da contemporaneidade. Instituições que por muito tempo pautaram quase que exclusivamente a produção de subjetividades – como a Igreja e os partidos – já não detêm mais poder absoluto, caindo no descrédito para uma gama imensa de indivíduos cada vez mais submersos em uma cultura do consumo. Nas relações interpessoais, pesa o avanço da tecnologia, que tem proporcionado, crescentemente, a conexão entre sujeitos geograficamente dispersos. Situado em uma encruzilhada de componentes numerosos de subjetividade, caberia ao próprio indivíduo o desejo e a ação para subverter sistemas opressivos dominantes. É nesse cenário que podem despontar pequenas movimentações revolucionárias capazes de despertar processos de sensibilidade inteiramente novos. Um estilo de dança, enquanto arte e campo criador, potencialmente goza da possibilidade de provocar mutações subjetivas, rompendo situações paralisantes e reivindicando um reconhecimento que passará pela via estética.
Neste contexto, nossa proposta é refletir sobre uma manifestação artística e corporal criada por jovens de favelas da cidade do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil: o passinho. A dança, que mistura movimentos do funk, frevo, samba e hip hop, surgiu em 2001 e ultrapassou os limites da periferia, inicialmente, via internet, levando-nos a pensar as mídias sociais como nova forma de manejo da sociabilidade. Nosso objetivo é pensar a emergência de distintas sensibilidades influenciadas por recentes modelos de comunicação introduzidos por tecnologias propulsoras de um novo protagonismo cultural nas favelas cariocas. Em uma sociedade onde o jovem possui mais oportunidade de alcançar a educação e a informação, porém muito menos acesso ao emprego e ao poder, o mundo audiovisual e da tecnologia acaba por se estabelecer como lugar de acesso ao repertório de grupos de referência.

Cultural Engagement and Social Integration with Marginalized Youth- A Case Study of Creative Políticas de Niñez

Carly Offidani-Bertrand, University of Chicago

An emerging network of Argentine civil associations serves as one of the most simultaneously vulnerable and feared populations: los/as chicos/as en situación de calle (“street children”). A burgeoning dialogue of post-dictatorship human rights, along with the national ratification of the United Nation’s Declaration of the Rights of the Child, fuels increased funding to programs that strengthen community ties through national identity under the promotion of patrimonio cultural. The legal and social particulars of cultural centers that serve as casas de día (and sometimes as casas de noche) differ according to local variations by province and municipality. I conducted field research in the municipality of Morón, an area known for its progressive politics and supported by the new populist party, Nuevo Encuentro. Using semi-structured interviews and ethnographic field notes, I explore the experiences of participants and employees in one government run cultural center, La Casa de la Juventud. La Casa de la Juventud uses an outreach approach- treating street children as results of poverty instead of threats to stability – and works to empower these young individuals by building their self-confidence and resilience. This style of program is unique in its practice of treating children as participating members of their artistic and cultural community. I examine how employees who provide services and teach classes within the cultural center understand and communicate children’s rights, and how this militancia cultural (“cultural activism”) is closely tied to historical memories focusing on the role of youth activism and its repression during the dictatorship. In addition, I examine how the youth participants of these centers understand and reappropriate this dialogue of rights, and how this influences their ability to cope with the stresses and hardships associated with life on the street.

Identity in Art: Constructions and Negotiations of Race

Friday, February 6, 2015
10:30am – 11:45am
Rechler Conference Room, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Mia Bagneris, Department of Art History, Tulane University

The Other Shore: reviewing the exodus of Cuban visual artist within the Mariel boatlift
Jimena Codina, Tulane University

In 1980, between the months of April and October, about 125,000 Cubans emigrated legally from Cuba to the United States through the port of Mariel. This event impacted not only the history of Cuba but also the history of Cuban immigration, and the relations between the United States and the island. Among the thousands of Cubans who emigrated, many were artists: writers, musicians, and visual artists (mainly painters). Some of these visual artists became visible in the context of galleries, art exhibitions and journals in the United States, specifically in Miami. Despite the differences in the background and scope of these artists, and despite the contrasts in their respective careers once they emigrated to the United States, they were bound together by the common experience of immigration to the U.S. through Mariel, they all came to form the Generation of Mariel, and this, in turn, impacted the content of their work and their artistic career. Considering the processes and effects of the Mariel boat-lift on the Cuban artist community will help to understand better the intersection of grand historical processes and the production of culture, and how these artists negotiate both the grand historical narratives and their own migratory experiences through their work.

100 Years of Lies: Images of Brazil’s Unified Black Movement
Briana Royster, Ohio University

Using posters created by Afro-Brazilian activists in 1988, this presentation will provide a preliminary investigation into the U.S. influences on the Unified Black Movement (MNU), while revealing Brazil’s unique history of race relations and how activists captured that history within its political posters. Scholars have studied the U.S. Civil Rights Movement from many perspectives, including its leaders, the role of women and students, and its place as a catalyst for later movements in the U.S. like the Women’s Rights Movement and the Chicano Movement. Less studied are the transnational effects of the Civil Rights Movement in other countries such as Brazil. Brazil and the United States have a history of cross-cultural exchange, one that includes the social and political movements of people of African descent. African American activists in the United States were one inspiration for the Unified Black Movement (MNU) during the last quarter of the twentieth century in Brazil. Brazil’s contemporary black movement began in the 1970s in an effort to end the myth of Brazil as a “racial democracy.” A key component to the MNU’s strategy involved visually representing the importance of black heritage and culture. With a reliance on their rich African history and images from the US Black Power Movement, Afro-Brazilian activists created posters and artwork to foster a consciousness about the racial problems in Brazil. Although motivated by what they saw in the United States, activists also remained aware of many other movements, including African independence movements. The MNU developed an artistic campaign unique to Brazil’s history of racial hegemony and worked diligently to improve the conditions of Afro-Brazilians. Using interviews and artwork (mostly in the form of posters) this presentation will elaborate on the similarities and differences between the two sets of images, giving rise to an analysis of the movements themselves.

Dissecting Identity through Dissolution: Guillermo Gomez-Pena and the Performance of the Poetic Overstatement
Alexandra Santana, Tulane University

The purpose of this project is to examine how contemporary performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña uses a mixture of invented language and aesthetic media as deconstructive instruments in his artwork in order to question rigid notions of social identity. The project is also an examination of his use of the internet as an aesthetic medium, both literally and figuratively, in his performances. The use of the non-identity (or anonymity) of a digitized subject in his work allows for a more reflective examination of subaltern and marginalized social identities, and thus provides a possible space for the mobilization of marginalized artistic audiences. More specifically, however, I question if the conceptual fracture of social identity through digital means truly attempts to “fight against cultural, artistic, and political isolationism”? (La Pocha Nostra) Through a formal analysis of several key performances, I argue that Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s use of an imagined, yet recognizable poetic cyberlanguage dissolves the borders, both physical and intangible, between traditional boundaries of cyberculture and social identity.

The Foreign Gaze: Reimagining Culture and Identity

Friday, February 6, 2015
4:00pm – 5:15pm
Race Conference Room 201, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Annie Gibson, Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Tulane University

Black Faces: uma reflexão comparada entre o Cavalo-Marinho (Pernambuco- Brasil) e os Zulus do Mardi Gras de New Orleans (EUA)
Beatriz Brusantin, Universidade Católica de Pernambuco

Neste texto construiremos um estudo comparado entre a manifestação cultural do Cavalo-Marinho (Bumba-meu-Boi) realizada na zona da mata norte de Pernambuco (Brasil) e o Mardi Gras (EUA). Em estudo realizado, dialogamos com as pesquisas de Reid Mitchell (2005) sobre o carnaval afro-creole em New Orleans e aprofundamos uma análise entre os personagens Mateus, Bastião e Catarina do folguedo Cavalo-Marinho e os Zulus do desfile do Clube Zulu de Ajuda Mútua e Diversão no século XX. Os personagens brasileiros e americanos trazem significações da cultura africana e esteticamente se utilizam do rosto pintado de preto para ridicularizar estereótipos brancos numa repetição e revisão das formas culturais brancas. Assim, aprofundaremos considerações a respeito dos processos de “crioulização” e “transculturação” dos povos africanos na América, compreendendo suas formas de (re)significar seu cotidiano e reinventar sua realidade através de expressões culturais como o Cavalo-Marinho e o Mardi Gras (Rei dos Zulus). Para desenvolver tal perspectiva analítica utilizaremos como base teórico-metodológica os estudos em História Social, como de Reid Mitchell e Robert Slenes, os estudos dos historiadores britânicos E.P. Thompson e Peter Burke sobre cultura popular e as reflexões sobre a cultura africana na América de Mintz e Price e Lovejoy.

The Victory of the Baianas and FIFA: a look at the opening of political opportunities in wake of the 2014 World Cup
Vanessa Castañeda, Tulane University

Baianas de acarajé are often referred to as “the postcard of Salvador”. These almost exclusively female street vendors are ubiquitously found within Salvador, Brazil, wearing turbans, white blouses and rounded skirts complimented with colored beaded necklaces. They are regarded as traditional and authentic icons of Afro-Bahian identity. Baianas have been selling their West African foods (acarajé) on the streets and beaches of Salvador da Bahia since the 19th century, originally as wage-earning slaves. In 2004 Baianas de acarajé were officially recognized as symbols of national Brazilian heritage and cultural patrimony. In 2013, FIFA announced for the first time in the history of the World Cup, permission for Baianas de acarajé to sell their historical and infamous fritters in the arenas of Salvador during the Confederation and World Cup games. This research paper is an interdisciplinary and intersectional study that examines how and why the Baianas were able to achieve this victory. I examine the historical relationship between Baianas and the local and federal governments, Brazil’s articulation of both a national and regional identities in the first half of the twentieth century and the emergence of a vibrant Afro culture, including cultural civil society groups and black intellectuals. I argue that Baianas were successful in achieving the victory as the first street vendors to sell within the FIFA games because of their official national status as cultural patrimony, the political opportunities afforded to them from the local and federal governments and the kinds of resources presented to them at this particular time in history. Using a mostly quantitative research method of historical and sociological methodology, I argue that this victory was possible because of the specific circumstances of the political environment during that time which partially explains the Baianas’ continuous struggle to address larger social movement agendas.

Sociolinguistic Coloniality and Decolonization in Haiti’s Political and Educational Institutions
Heather Frost, Tulane University

While former colonies often have complicated linguistic relationships with their colonial, indigenous, and creole languages, in Haiti, these relationships have been further complicated in the last hundred years. In the twentieth century, notably since the American occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934 during which French was established as the sole official language of the Caribbean nation, the dynamics between Haiti, its former colonizer, France, and the United States have shifted. Today, these international dynamics reflect the complicated web of dependence, exploitation, and cultural hegemony which continuously renews and displaces political, economic, and linguistic bonds between the three nations. As language has been and continues to be one of the principal tools of cultural hegemony, in this paper I examine how the marginalization of the Haitian Creole language in Haiti is perpetuated by Haitians based on a colonial model in order to limit social mobility and to preserve elite privilege, particularly in political and educational institutions. Additionally, I examine how foreign influence comes into play in this sociolinguistic policy. I explore what is at stake in linguistic policies and practices that marginalize the language spoken by the majority and evaluate alternative policies and practices that have been proposed in terms of the extent to which they work towards the decolonization of Haiti’s political and educational institutions.

Indigenous, Afro-descendent, and Mestizo: Tourism Development and National Narratives
Gabriela Galeano, George Mason University

The national narratives espoused by Central American governments have historically been based on a mestizo (defined here as indigenous-white mixed) image, notorious for homogenizing indigenous and afro-indigenous identities in an attempt to assimilate minority groups into the dominant society. However, recent scholarship points to a shift from mestizaje to a celebration of multiculturalism in the telling of national narratives, where previously marginalized minority groups – such as indigenous and afro-descendant populations – are now pressed to emphasize their cultural difference, particularly for tourist consumption. The Garifuna afro-descendant communities of Honduras represent one such population currently engaging with the rapid growth of tourism development as well as redefining citizenship and civic participation. My initial fieldwork on tourism development and land rights among the Tornabe Garifuna community in Tela, Honduras focused on the process through which the community organized and obtained an agreement with the Honduran national government and national/international investors regarding the development, construction, and management of a nearby, large-scale tourism resort. Interviews with community members at the time pointed to a successful collaborative relationship, though interviews and participant-observation conducted two years later exposed more complex dynamics between the major actors and during a different – more tense – sociopolitical and economic context. Thus, while the overall objective of my research still consists of analyzing the ways in which the Tornabe Garifuna community in the Tela Bay area of Honduras is resisting and adapting to the growing tourism industry (e.g. socio-political organization and framing of interests), I also seek to explore the potential role Garifuna communities could play (and have played) in the Honduran economy as well as bring into question the long-held perception that Afro-Hondurans and other minority groups are not contributors (or are marginal) to the mestizo-based ideal of Honduran citizenship.

Embodying the Beauty of a Nation: negotiating identifications in the Miss Haiti competition
Eva Heppelmann, University of California Los Angeles

Beauty Pageants, particularly national and international pageants, offer insight into representations of the nation and femininity. In the case of the Miss Haiti beauty pageant, contestants participate in a performance of citizenship. Competing to represent Haiti on a national and later on an international stage, the women negotiate personal opinions of beauty and comportment with international perceptions. The pageant serves as a platform that illustrates tensions surrounding cultural values, identifications, and aesthetics, demonstrating a corporeal enactment of these questions of identification. By comparing competitions in several Caribbean countries as well as competitions in the United States, I will investigate the intersection of pedagogic and performative narratives of nationality. What does it mean to embody or represent a nation? In past competitions, contestants who have lived most of their lives outside of Haiti have been selected to represent the nation. In the most recent 2014 Miss Haiti competition, contestants choose to answer questions in Kreyol rather than French, causing shock and admiration among the audience. Finally, how does the fact that these contests were founded and now run by western nations influence the presentation of nationality and beauty? I will analyze past and recent contestants’ performances, the structure and customs surrounding the competitions, as well as the politics of the competition to investigate representations of nationality on an ‘international’ stage.