Intimacies of Un-becoming: Oral History Performances and Mujeres Afrodescendientes in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Coleman Chavez, Daniel
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication
  • This dissertation explores some possibilities for performing black diasporic subjectivity for women in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México. Engaging three Afro-descendant women’s narrative histories, this critical-ethnographic and oral history-based project addresses the complexities of socio-historical, political, and personal memory-making and subject formation. I ask: How do women in San Cristóbal understand themselves as black subjects when they do not and have not ever existed in a community of black people in México? What does it mean to perform blackness in the context of San Cristóbal de las Casas? What is the role of oral history in shaping meaning-making across black lives and histories? My aim is to animate theoretical contingencies in and implications of the each woman’s narrative performance, focusing on reflexive engagement of their respective genealogies and discoveries; the difficulty of finding ways to name their lived experiences given the dominant claims of of Mexican mestizaje and coastal narratives on Afro-Mexicanness; the heterogeneous nature of each of their life trajectories and communities of affiliation; colonial legacies that shape the violences that cross black women and how they wrestle with them; and what I will call processual “un-becomings” as the intimate and lifelong work of performing blackness in San Cristobal. Each of the dissertation’s three core chapters focuses on the life narrative of one woman. In Chapter Two, I consider how oral history performance and live performance come into conversation to enliven critical intercultural subjectivity and ancestral longings. In Chapter Three, I imagine what a Mexican double consciousness might be and how one can be racially and corporeally interpellated as a black subject. In Chapter Four, I contemplate how resignification practices work against the operation of the sociogenic principle as a defining force in racialized identity for black women. The final chapter forwards the idea of “affective encounters” of oral history performance work, imagining future possibilities made in dialogue, performance, and community in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Through the study of individual lives, oral history performances, and the performance of the oral history encounter, this dissertation explores what is, or what could be, a more just vision for black diasporic subjectivity for Afro-descendant women.
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  • In Copyright
  • Gill, Hannah
  • Alexander Craft, Renee
  • Mignolo, Walter
  • Pollock, Della
  • Silva, Kumarini
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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