RLSP 405
Racialized Bodies on Display Spring 2024
Division I
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

Across the Americas, the bodies of contemporary Indigenous people were displayed next to bones, fossils, and ruins to separate them from their lands and natural resources; while the bodies and bones of enslaved people were collected, dissected, and displayed to support racist theories of stratification and discourses of difference. This course examines the persistent role that collections have played in the construction of pseudo-scientific racial knowledge in the Americas. It traces the display of Black and Indigenous bodies as objects in museums, literature, paintings, engravings, photographic albums, and other media, as well as contemporary interventions and critiques of the deceiving nature of scientific racism. We will study visual and material culture alongside fiction and non-fiction texts to explore how collections become a narrative device for a racialized representation of reality. One of the main questions of this course is how do images, literature, and objects shape our understanding of scientific ideas and culture? We will also engage in critique from an intersectional perspective to consider how media are shaped by logics of race, gender, and ability. This course gives students the tools to discuss the ethics of material and visual display as well as the general notion of archives as sources of historical preservation. We will explore chronicles, the work of eighteenth-century authors such as Lorenzo Boturini and Francisco Javier Clavigero, as well as casta paintings, Julio Popper’s photographic album and Israel Castellanos’ La delincuencia femenina, museum collections, and contemporary interventions and critiques such as Ana Mendieta’s Glass on Body Imprints or the performance The Couple in the Cage by Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez Pena. We will also read a number of critical essays by leading scholars in the fields of decolonial theory and museum studies such as Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Walter Mignolo, and Silvia Spitta, among others.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3135
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: In addition to active and informed class participation, requirements include one presentation, two short papers, and a final project.
Prerequisites: any 300-level RLSP course or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Senior Spanish Majors.
Distributions: Division I

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