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Materialist Interventions of the Latin/x American Queer Archive

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Organizer: Manuel R. Cuellar

Co-Organizer: Mariela Méndez

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If we abide by Karen Barad’s dictum that “Matter feels, converses, suffers, desires, yearns and remembers” (New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies, Open Humanities Press, 2012), how do we approach the materiality of the archive alongside the materiality of our own bodies as we interact with this archive? In this seminar, we aim to both queer the archive and be queered by it via a materialist perspective that sheds light on the ways we approach the material absences, presences, and excesses of queer archives. We are particularly interested in papers that address how materiality impacts queer archival work, how we might fill in materially what is not there, how we register the materiality of ephemera, how live corporeal queer archives inscribe the archive’s absences through affect and the imagination, and how materiality acts upon our own imaginative potential, among other things.

From a feminist new materialist perspective, both our embodied experiences as archivists and the archives themselves can be said to emerge through the interplay of material-discursive practices that entangle things and bodies with technologies, with laws and regulations, with the environment, with medico-legal practices, etc. What happens, then, when bodies and archives constitutively interact with one another? What role do specific places and material sites--walls, buildings, rocks, rivers, the animate and the inanimate--have as stimuli for queer archival practices? Can reading and feeling the queer archive from a materialist perspective in turn help foreground its agency, its power to engage our embodied selves, its capacity to remember or erase, its impulse towards desire, yearning and longing, and its rebellious nature against norms and normalization?

This seminar invites transdisciplinary contributions that seek to engage with archives and archival practices in Latin/x America with a view to exploring whether the Latin/x American archive, because of its colonial history, demands a meaningful discussion around materiality. In other words, how are the material dimensions of coloniality accounted for in our archival practices as Latin Americanists? How do the intersections of queer with decolonial practices play out in material terms? Ultimately at stake is a call to question our methods for indexing memory, the idea of history as a register of the past, the notion of archive as the locus of truth, and the ways each one of us relates to these processes: how we give account of, how we are connected to, and how we discuss and identify or disidentify with the archive and our own personal, material, intellectual, and affective investments.

This seminar is convened by Manuel Cuellar, Tara Daly, and Mariela Méndez. Please send 200-word proposals (1500 characters) to the ACLA abstract portal by September 20, and contact Manuel Cuellar (cuellar@gwu.edu), Tara Daly (tara.daly@marquette.edu) or Mariela Méndez (mmendezd@richmond.edu) with any questions. 

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