Treading the Invisible: Contemporary Performances of Black Freedom
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This dissertation examines black diasporic performance, spanning from the 1960s to the present and encompassing the U.S., the Caribbean, and Cuba. I seek to remap the history of the black diaspora’s self-expression and methods of knowing by centers feminist and queer interventions and notions of time and space. I argue that each of the selected performance practices, utopian in nature, operates as the process of collective memory making, while it also questions the limits of the the present reality, thus shifting the utopian horizon from a futurity to the here and now of the performance. Together, I consider these performances as world-making projects which reimagine and create spaces for black queer desire. I focus on a Latin soul performance, the activism of Black Lives Matter, the staged public behaviors of a Cuban immigrant in the U.S., and contemporary photography and novels. I show how the structure of each enacts the complex ways in which black diasporic memory works, and troubles dominant ideas of what constitutes worthwhile social agency and choice, by resisting hegemonic forms of signification.