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Prof. Jossianna Arroyo-Martínez -- "Cities of the Dead: Performing Life in the Caribbean" (Tues 3/27 6PM)

Event Start: 
Tue, 03/27/2018 - 6:00pm
701C Dodge Hall (The Center for Ethnomusioclogy)
The Center for Ethnomusicology announces a colloquium featuring:

Prof. Jossianna Arroyo-
(The University of Texas, Austin)

"Cities of the Dead: Performing Life in the Caribbean."

Tuesday March 27, 2018
701C Dodge Hall
(The Center for Ethnomusicology, Columbia Univ. Morningside Campus at 116th and Broadway)
Free and Open to the Public
Reception to Follow
For more information or accommodations, please email

Life and death defined the historical and temporal dimensions of the plantation. Many of these material, affective and ritualistic views on life and death haunt contemporary Caribbean cities. This essay will analyze the narrative script of Juan de los muertos (Juan of the Dead) and Eduardo Lalo’s documentary La ciudad perdida (2005) along with the funeral rites performed by Funeraria Marín in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, whose “performative funerals” or collages, have circulated in journals and the Internet, creating what appear to be “living tableaus” or original wakes since 2010. I believe that zombies, the living dead, and the performative dead—are all part of the ways life and death and create sites of individual or collective action. I will be cautious to read these actions merely as forms of agency against the state or neoliberal economies. These necropolitics, to use Achille Mbembe’s term, are more than forms of agency: they “frame” forms of precarious subjectivity, survival, and existence in contemporary Caribbean societies where melancholia is pretty much related to the present.

BIOGRAPHY: Born in Puerto Rico Jossianna Arroyo-Martínez (BA, University of Puerto Rico, 1989, PhD University of California at Berkeley, 1998)  is a literary and cultural studies scholar who specializes in the analysis of Afro-Diasporic literatures and cultures in the Americas, critical race studies, queer studies, and media studies. She is Professor and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Austin, Texas. She also holds an appointment at the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. She is the author of Travestismos culturales: literatura y etnografía en Cuba y Brasil (Iberoamericana, 2003) a critique of cultural racism in the work of Gilberto Freyre and Fernando Ortiz, and several Cuban and Brazilian novels, and Writing Secrecy in Caribbean Freemasonry (Palgrave, 2013), an analysis of transnational, racial and colonial dimensions of Masonic encounters in the circum-Caribbean and the United States (1850-1898). She has contributing essays on Brazilian and Caribbean Literatures at Lusosex Sexualities in the Portuguese Speaking World (2002); Technofuturos (2008). She has published at Encuentro de la cultura cubanaLa Habana EleganteRevista de Estudios HispánicosJournal of Latino Studies, and CENTRO Journal for Puerto Rican Studies, among many other national and international publications. Her new research project entitled Mediascapes is an analysis of local and transnational Caribbean cultures in new media and their ways of representing race, ethnicity and culture in neoliberal times.

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