Feminizing Oswald De Andrade’s Manifesto Antropófago and Vasconcelo’s Raza Cosmica : The Videos of Sonia Andrade and Pola Weiss.

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ceves Sepulveda, Gabriela; and Shamash, Sarah (2016) "Feminizing Oswald De Andrade's Manifesto Antropófago and Vasconcelo's Raza Cosmica : The Videos of Sonia Andrade and Pola Weiss." In Media-N The Journal of the New Media Caucus, Special Edition Mestizo Technology: Art, Design, And Technoscience in Latin Americas 12 (1), 12-19.

Date created: 
2016-03-30
Keywords: 
Mestizaje
Video art
Feminist
Latin America
Feminized perspective
Raza cósmica
Manifesto antropófago
Hybridity
Cannibalism
Náhuatl
Cyborg
Third world feminism
New mestiza consciousness
Abstract: 

The term 'mestizaje' has been broadly used to denote the hybrid nature of Latin American cultures. Two of the most notable engagements with hybridity came from the Mexican José Vasconcelos' La Raza Cósmica (1925) and the Brazilian Oswald de Andrade's Manifesto Antropófago (1928). Both of these modernist intellectuals developed a strategy to resist western colonial domination and to embrace a unique culture that blended multiple histories, ethnicities, cosmologies, and practices. This paper addresses how, in the 1970s, Brazilian video artist Sonia Andrade (b. 1935) and Mexican video artist Pola Weiss (b. 1947-1990) cannibalize and embody Andrade and Vasconcelos' manifestos from a feminized perspective. Following the work of the Chilean critic Nelly Richard, feminization is understood as a process that breaks down the barriers of biological determinism and fixed symbolic roles, becoming thus a practice of continued contestation which is not only relevant to those who define themselves as women but also to a multitude of experience that contest normative and fixed definitions of sex, race or ethnicity. From this perspective, we also position Andrade and Weiss' work as part of a meaningful dialogue with those Chicana scholars who feminized the concept of mestizaje during the second half of the twentieth century.

Most famously, by the mid 1980s, Chicana scholars Gloria Anzaldúa and Chela Sandoval re-engaged with the concept of mestizaje to theorize their experiences as mixed-queer-third-world feminists of color in the United States. In particular, Anzaldúa's new mestiza consciousness, which stressed the potential of crossbred, queer and indigenous peoples to propose a new angle of vision, namely a new critical way of challenging the binary structures imposed by western patriarchy, became foundational for the development of Chicana scholarship. Anzaldúa's new mestiza consciousness went beyond biological definitions of mestizaje; she defined a holistic epistemology as "a more whole perspective, one that includes rather than excludes." Building from Anzaldúa's work, Sandoval proposed an oppositional consciousness as a way to explore "affinities inside of difference." Sandoval's oppositional methodology describes a set of strategies that seek to build bridges and trace affinities between the work of what he calls "postcolonial US third-world feminist criticism" and canonical western postmodern cultural theorists in order to put an end to "academic apartheid." Indeed, Sandoval's work is central to Donna Haraway's Manifesto for Cyborgs (1985), the foundational text for the development of cyborg feminism. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid between organism and machine, "a matter of fiction and lived experience that changes what counts as women's experience in the late twentieth century." Significantly, one of the central objectives of Haraway's Manifesto for Cyborgs is a broader political project aimed at transgressing boundaries and undoing the dualisms and essentialisms of those dominant intellectual and cultural traditions that dictate the construction of hierarchies of difference.

However, it is noteworthy that in the chicana-feminist-queer-cyborg-third-world re-engagement with the concept of mestizaje/cyborg, the voices and experiences of Latin American women from the South are excluded. Consequently, this paper seeks to address this omission by discussing two emblematic videos by Sonia Andrade, Sem título (1975) and Pola Weiss, Somos Mujeres (1978) respectively, while situating the artists and their works in geo-historical and socio-politico-cultural contexts. In doing so, we collaboratively map diverse re-engagements with the concept of mestizaje (including hybrids of self and technology) developed by Latin American women as a critique of dominant social structures. And, in the spirit of Chela Sandoval's search for commonalities of strength and affinity, this paper seeks to find those commonalities of strength and affinity among women in the Americas who feminized the concept of mestizaje during the second half of the twentieth century.

Language: 
English
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Article
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