From Deserts to Islands: Coloniality, Environment and Language in Latin America and the Caribbean | Events | Calendar | News


Dr. Macarena Gomez-Barrisprofessor and dean of liberal arts and sciences at Pratt Institute and Dr Amilcar Antonio BarretoProfessor and Chair of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies at Northeastern University.

Dr Gomez-Barris is a writer and researcher specializing in environmental themes, decolonial theory and practice, and intersections with queer/trans* feminisms. She is the author of three books including, The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives(Duke University Press, 2017), which examines five scenes of ruinous extractive capitalism, and Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Political Currents in the Americas (UC Press 2018), a text of critical hope on the role of submerged art and solidarity in troubled times. She is also the author of Where memory dwells: culture and state violence in Chile (2009) and co-editor with Herman Gray of Towards a sociology of the trace (2010). She’s working on a new book, At the seaside (Duke University Press), which considers colonial ocean transits and the generative space between land and sea. Macarena is the founding director of the Pratt Institute’s Global South Center, More recently, she received the Pratt Institute Research Recognition Award (2021-2022), the University of California, the Santa Cruz Distinguished Alumni Award (2021-2022) and the Andy Warhol Curatorial Grant (2022-2023).

She will share a talk titled “Atacama: An Integrated Research Practice”, in which she will reflect on how writing, research and creative practice come together in a palimpsest of approaches in relation to the particular site of her analysis. , the Atacama. Given the colonial Anthropocene and the context of continued environmental degradation, ruin and extractivism, how could we think about the role of the human and the non-human in the desert?

As for Dr. Barreto, he specializes in nationalism and ethnic politics and citizenship and race. Most of his work has focused on Puerto Rico and Latinos in the United States. His most recent books are Language politics in Puerto Rico revisited (2020) and American Identity in the Age of Obama (2014, co-edited with Richard L. O’Bryant). And some of the more recent articles include “Bifurcating American Identity: Partisanship, Sexual Orientation, and the 2016 Presidential Election,” Politics, groups and identities (2018, co-authored with Nicholas G. Napolio), “Hierarchies of Belonging: Intersecting Race, Ethnicity, and Territoriality in the Construction of US Citizenship”, Citizenship Studies (2017, co-authored with Kyle Lozano) and “American Identity, Congress and the Puerto Rico Statehood Debate”, Ethnicity and Nationalism Studies (2016).

He will share a talk titled “From Puerto Rico to Puerto Rico and Back: Debating the Value of Racialized Citizens.” This lecture will focus on how, after four centuries as a Spanish colony, the government of Madrid was forced to cede Puerto Rico to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War. The English text of the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the agreement finalizing this conflict, misspelled the island’s name as Puerto Rico. Since the U.S. Senate only ratifies the English text of a treaty, this error remained entrenched in U.S. law and sparked a decades-long campaign to restore the territory’s original name. The error was finally corrected in 1932. More than a comedy of error, this incident exposes conflicting interpretations of American citizenship and the dignity of different groups of American citizens. Naturalized in 1917, Puerto Ricans found that the statutory citizenship granted to them was mitigated by their perceived value. And dignity was a position limited by representations of their community as members of the so-called Spanish race.


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