LELACS Conference: Travel and Language - Narrating the Immigrant Experience

755 Library Road, Rochester, NY 14626

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In this presentation, I analyze how AfroLatinas’ bodies are narrated in the chapbooks Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (2016) by Elizabeth Acevedo and Muse Found in a Colonized Body (2022) by Yesenia Montilla. Dialoguing with decolonial feminist theorist María Lugones, and with Nelson Maldonado-Torres’ war’s death ethic, I argue that Acevedo and Montilla narrate AfroLatinas’ bodies as a space of war in which the battle between the Euromodern paradigm of war and decolonial liberation is waged. Through a study of the AfroLatina figure in Acevedo and Montilla’s poetics, I examine the violence to which AfroLatina women and girls are exposed due the intersections of race/gender/citizenship/migration and the ways in which they resist oppressive practices and discourses. I propose that these poems demonstrate the displacement and alienation experienced by Black female diasporic subjects in a nation-state that articulates their bodies as expendable. I conclude that by narrating the resistance and survival of these abject subjectivities, these beastgirls and muses, Acevedo and Montilla construct the AfroLatina body as a disruptive space against the naturalizing war of Euromodernity and thus, as a possibility for alternative ways of Ser (Being) and Estar (Being), for a decolonial turn.

Vialcary Crisóstomo Tejada, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Rochester. She received her PhD from the University of Connecticut in Latin American and Caribbean Literatures and Cultures. Her areas of specialization include Afro-Caribbean Studies, Latinx Studies, Latin American Literature, Decolonial Feminism, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is currently working on her first book, titled Spaces of Resistance, in which she analyzes representations of Black and gender non-binary bodies in feminist Caribbean literature as contestations to hegemonic notions of race, gender, sexuality, and to the naturalizing effects of space endorsed by the State. The monograph dialogues with notions of cimarronaje (marronage) and proposes a relational and collective conception of identity. Her current research focuses on Black and feminist collective in the Caribbean, Abya Yala and its diasporas. She is also the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Candela Review, a peer-review and open access Afro-Feminist journal.

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