Date of Degree

9-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures

Advisor

Magdalena Perkowska

Committee Members

Oswaldo Zavala

Ángeles Donoso Macaya

Lourdes Dávila

Subject Categories

Latin American Languages and Societies

Abstract

This dissertation examines the work of Latin American and Latinx photographers from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. I argue that the techniques and symbolism chosen by the photographers prompt a critical reexamination of Eurocentric, racialized, and gendered early photography practices, such as the ethnographic portrait, the daguerreotype, the photo-album, the carte-de-visite, among others. These photographers deconstruct historically oppressive visual technologies and use them as a decolonial artistic praxis. In doing so, they reveal an interest in the history of photography as a site of resistance for misrepresented subjects (namely sexually dissident and migrant communities, women, and Black and indigenous peoples) and to dismantle the imposed, racist, colonial normative visuality of the present. Specifically, I focus on three transhistorical, counter-visual, and affective gestures—seeing, touching, and feeling—that emerge from three photographic fields: portraiture, vernacular and family photographs, and photo-based archival practices. I conclude that these gestures enact a “right to look” as a decolonial move, offer counter-visual narratives of gender, race, and ethnicity, and negotiate affective processes of immigration, collective memory, and cultural loss, while reaffirming personal stories, heritages, and memories of subjects in colonial and postcolonial states.

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