Professor Adela C. Licona

Project Title: "Experiencing Tucson & El Dia de los Muertos through
Michael Keith’s ‘Racialization and the Public Spaces of the Multicultural City'

Project Description

Gloria Anzaldúa states that the work of mestiza consciousness is to break down the subject-object duality. She challenges us to show—in the flesh and through the images in our work—how duality is transcended (1987, 102). I utilize the concept of third space as a space materialized by this transcendence.  My work here is an attempt to explore third space in its materiality while also engaging the contested nature of space, spatialized practices, and practices of the commodification of difference, what Bordo refers to as normalized heterogeneity. Third space can be the space of the decolonial imaginary, a space – according to Emma Pérez – of newness, rearticulated desire, and revisioned histories; in short, a space of third-space consciousness from which histories, practices, sites and subjectivities can be re-imagined.  The potential and the power to re-imagine and re-present space as a material location is never guaranteed.

My larger project explores borderlands’ rhetorics that represent the borders and boundaries that constrain and produce us, and our discourses, in the everyday. I propose that it is through the in-depth exploration of non-dominant, what I will call third-space sites and subjectivities that meaningful (re)discoveries can be made about representational and resistant rhetorics that reveal important insights into (the transformative potentials of) third space. I am interested in investigating and re-presenting the multiple ways in which sites and subjectivities come together to (re)configure social space, relationships, and practices.  In my most recent work, I draw on Doreen Massey’s (2005) definition of space is a relational production, a product of social relations (and so necessarily political), and the sphere of dynamic simultaneity constantly disconnected by new arrivals and determined by new relations.   To capture the dynamic and contested nature of space, she thinks of spaces as stories-so-far.  A focus on the dynamic nature of space allows for multiple and even competing histories and experiences bound by space.  Massey notes that “conceptualizing space as open, multiple and relational, unfinished and also becoming, is a prerequisite for history to be open and thus a prerequisite, too, for the possibility of politics.”

These are the theoretical insights that inform this short video project.  I filmed this while teaching a graduate course on racialized rhetorics in which we were reading Keith’s essay referenced in the title.  During this same time, I was told about the Day of the Dead event in Tucson.  Interestingly, one of the graduate students in my class, a Chicana from Tucson who observes el Día de los Muertos, had never heard of, nor participated in this Tucson event…  I used Keith’s essay and the video camera to engage the implications of this lived truth.


Link to Project

Other Documentary Film Work

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Professor Adela C. Licona


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