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Feminisms Unbound - The Dark Room: Race and Gender in the Visual Archive


  • The Moore Room, Building 6, Room 321 (map)

The Dark Room: Race and Gender in the Visual Archive

In the intellectual tributary that is critical race theory, all is connected.  Whether the task is elucidating the gendered trajectory of imperialism and violence in the United States, examining indigenous art forms in Latin America, or probing the interstices of Caribbean cultural production in the 20th century, critical race theorists have always engaged the world of the visual.  Bringing together scholars invested in the work of critical race studies asvisual culture offers a unique vantage point through which to imagine the future of visual culture studies. The Dark Room is an interdisciplinary working group of scholars interested in theories of visuality and theories of racial formation.   In this roundtable each feminist scholar will select an image and interpret it in relation to its archive.


Roundtable discussion participants:


Nikki A. Greene, Assistant Professor of Art, Wellesley College

Nikki A. Greene is an Assistant Professor in the Art Department at Wellesley College. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Delaware in 2010. Her book project tentatively titled, “Rhythms of Glue, Grease, Grime, and Glitter: The Body in Contemporary African American Art,” featuring Romare Bearden, David Hammons, Renée Stout, and Radcliffe Bailey, considers the intersection between the body, African American identity, and the aural/musical possibilities of the visual. Her most recent articles include, “The Feminist Funk Power of Betty Davis and Renée Stout” in American Studies Journal (Fall 2013); and “Romare Bearden and the Hand of Jazz,” in the edited volume, Permeable Boundaries: Music and Visual Art (2014).

Sandy Alexandre, Associate Professor of Literature, MIT

Sandy Alexandre’s research spans the late nineteenth-century to present-day black American literature and culture. Her first book, The Properties of Violence: Claims to Ownership in Representations of Lynching (Mississippi 2012), uses the history of American lynching violence as a framework to understand matters concerning displacement, property ownership, and the American pastoral ideology in a literary context. She is currently writing a second book, Up From Chattels: Thinghood in an Ethics of Black Curation, which will take as its point of departure the premise that the former, enforced condition of black Americans as fungible merchandise can haunt, inform, and morally energize their own relationships to material objects. She has published articles in Mississippi QuarterlySigns: Journal of Women in Culture & Society, Modern Drama, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and Criticism.

Irene Mata, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Wellesley College

Irene Mata is Associate Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Wellesley College, where she teaches courses in Chican@/Latin@ literature and culture. Her research interests include the analysis of gender, labor, immigration, and representation in contemporary cultural productions and how current globalization projects have impacted the lives of women on the U.S./Mexico border area.  Her forthcoming book, Domestic Disturbances:  Re-imagining Narratives of Gender, Labor, and Immigration (UT Press Fall 2014), suggests a new way of looking at Chicana/Latina immigrant stories, not as a continuation of a literary tradition, but instead as a specific Latina genealogy of immigrant narratives that more closely engage with the conditions of immigration occurring in our current historical moment.

Marcia Chatelain, Assistant Professor of History, Georgetown University

Marcia Chatelain researches a wide array of issues in African-American history and and teaches about African-American migration, women's and girls' history, and food studies. Specifically, her work focuses on girls and girlhood in the Great Migration era, as well as the development of black food cultures and civil rights. Her book, forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2015, is South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration, and she has published in the journals Diplomatic History and Journal of Illinois History, among others.  She is currently researching a book about race and fast food.

Moderator: Kimberly Juanita Brown, Visiting Scholar in Gender Studies, Pembroke Center, Brown University

Kimberly Juanita Brown's research gathers at the intersection of critical race theory and visual culture studies.  Her book (forthcoming from Duke University Press), The Repeating Body: Slavery’s Visual Resonance in the Contemporary examines the proliferation of imagery, literary and visual, emerging after the Civil Rights Movement, and contributing to a “failure of seeing” regarding black women’s corporeal vulnerabilities.  She is currently at work on a second project examining images of the dead on the cover of the New York Times in 1994.  Her second book project, Their Dead Among Us: Photography, Melancholy, and The Politics of the Visual will explore the photographic dispossession of the body of the other and patterns of exclusion engendered by these ocular practices.

Earlier Event: April 4
Who's Laughing? The Politics of Humor
Later Event: March 11
Gender, Sexuality, and Urban Spaces