De Certeau and Ahmed

In his essay “Walking in the City,” Michel de Certeau describes the interplay between the proper names of streets and the materiality of pedestrians’ movements through them. The very movement of pedestrians, de Certeau argues, recodes those streets’ meanings and grants them a social life that outlives and reconfigures what they were originally named for: “[T]hese names make […]

Spaces of Resistance

In “Happy Objects,” Sara Ahmed argues that happiness is affective, meaning that “to be happy is to be affected by something” (29). Ahmed shifts happiness from a body-centric and body generated response, to a response to a contingent proximity between yourself and objects around you (31). By stressing that happiness is produced by being “directed […]

Sofia Presentation Class Notes

Presentation Notes -Toward a Geography of Art CH 7,8,9 Intro: In this books Kaufmann is describing Kubler’s writings and how he attempted to view art history in terms of analysis and inserts his beliefs about physical geography in relation to “materials, centers, and traditions” (222). This method of making art history a process of examining […]

The Periphery

I’m intrigued by Kauffman’s discussion of the center, the periphery, and their relationship in both the political sense and the artistic sense. The first distinction between these two realms is that capital cities are very rarely the cultural centers of the areas he deals with – something that is true even today (New York, Lahore, St Petersburg […]

Politics and Art

In “towards a geography of art,” Thomas Dacosta Kaufmann describes the work of American art historian George Kubler and his efforts to reconfigure art history’s approach to both of its eponymous analytical lenses. Kubler, unlike his contemporaries, considers “questions of physical geography in relation to material, centers and traditions” (222), thus re-configuring the study of […]

Hyphens and Spaces

In “Does That Come with a Hyphen? A Space?” Kency Cornejo examines the systemic exclusion, and subsequent erasure of Central American artists from Latino art discussions and exhibition spaces. Cornejo highlights that the invisibility of the Central American artists reflects the larger stigmatization of Central Americans as marginal, less-than, and dangerous others which ultimately led […]

Week 8 Response

Andrea Noble argues in her essay “Visual Culture and Latin American Studies” that modern visual cultural studies are characterized by a strong Euroamerican-centric perspective. Although the collective “visual turn” of various disciplines are valorized as a method of grappling with a context of globalized image production and circulation, in reality, visual culture remains, in her […]

Categories and Space

Margo Machida’s Unsettled Visions probes the idea of a category as either imposed from outside or constructed from within. She shows how, for the development of the category of Asian American, it was often seen as prescriptive rather than descriptive. In other words, the category as an identity was used as a restriction. What if, as […]

Meaning Over Time

Margo Machida’s Unsettled Visions offers a comprehensive and nuanced look at the plural, changing meanings of the “Asian-American artist” category, its social and political role, and the overlaps and differences in the themes these artists tackle. To be an Asian American artist is more than to be Asian and American and an artist, or to […]

(Week 5 Post) Resistance and Analysis in the Society of the Spectacle

In The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord argues that modern society is dominated by the “spectacle,” that transforms life into “mere representation” (1) alienating the individual from direct experience and the real nature of production and interaction. In the society of the spectacle, life is abstracted into images and illusions which replace “the satisfaction of […]

New nodal points in globalization?

Shu-mei Shih’s chapter “Globalization and Minoritization” highlights the problems with using the concepts of flow/fluidity as a form of resistance within a theoretical discussion haunted by the specter of postcolonial nationalisms. She describes recent trends in scholarship that have reversed interpretations of power in colonial legacies. Frederick Buell and Anthony King, for example, have theorized […]

Ethnicity vs Nationality

Takeyuki Tusda explores a very interesting question related to identity in “Homeland-less Abroad.” In general, there are two main categories that often are used to define one’s identity: ethnicity (defined by one’s background) and nationality (defined by one’s place of birth). Yet, in the case of the immigrant populations, these categories are not exactly useful, making most […]

Feeling “in-between”

In “Homeland-less Abroad,” Takeyuki Tusda discusses diasporic liminality as a form of disoriented life characterized by “social uprootedness and ungroundedness resulting in a loss of a firm sense of place” (122). In discussing the return migration of Japanese Brazilian factory workers, and the personal challenges these workers face in their “ethnic homeland,” Tsuda argues that […]

Asian American Theater

Karen Shimakawa explores an interesting strategy to deal with Asian diaspora issues in America. During the civil rights movement, a new theater company was created as a response to the struggle of Asian American performers in the theater industry. At the time, Asian American performers were frustrated because of the limited range of roles they […]

On Performance and the Body

A major theme in our course syllabus, and in particular Diana Taylor’s 2016 book Performance, is the question of memory, as well as memory as body. For Taylor, “performance is a practice and an epistemology, a creative doing, a methodological lens, a way of transmitting memory and identity, and a way of understanding the world” […]

Linger on Purity

To indulge my ongoing interest in perfectible reproduction, this post focuses on the questions of blood, racial purity, and mestizaje—or the Portugese equivalent in Brazil. In the final chapter of Searching for Home, Daniel Linger suggests that Japanese Brazilians do not necessarily comprise a unitary “diaspora,” questioning the validity of “Japanese Brazilian” as a demographic […]

Why, yes they do

Daniel Linger’s thought provoking question in Searching for Home Abroad, “do Japanese Brazilians exist?”, is also a provocative one. His implied response, which I assume to be “no,” is informed by a number of factors. First, Linger recognizes that “ethnicities, races, and nations are conjured up through symbols and stories that enmesh people in webs of relatedness” (209). […]

transnational movements and sovereignty

Both Lesser and Linger’s discussions bring attention to the way in which the transnational movement of people throughout different historical periods destabilize the clearcut boundaries of nation-states. With the mass migration of Japanese to Brazil and of Brazilians citizens of Japanese heritage to Japan, what arises is a complication of the sovereignty of a nation-state. […]

Presentation on Jeffrey Lesser and Daniel Linger

In “Japanese, Brazilians, Nikkei: A Short History of Identity Building and Homemaking” Jeffrey Lesser explores the Japanese diaspora in Brazil. He starts his chapter by explaining how the Japanese-Brazilian population (also known as Nikkei) originated. He mentions that in 1908, fifteen years after the Japanese diplomat Sho Nemoto went to Brazil in an attempt to […]

Photographs + Latour

The author reads Latour’s text as helping answer the question What were the rich heterogeneities of color and class, social realities, and cultural hybridities that contribute to this lacuna of “transition” from a slave society to free society? (184). In tackling this question, the author points out how Latour is answering it in a similarly […]

Texts speak?

Lisa Yun’s chapter “An Afro-Chinese Author” is just as much about acts of writing and narration as it is about the interlinked social histories of Chinese coolies and African slaves. Through the act of inscribing the coolie experience Chuffat creates a mode of speaking for peoples often excluded from official narratives. From the beginning of her […]

Yun, “An Afro-Chinese Author”

Lisa Yun, in her final chapter on the “Afro-Chinese author,” employs archival, textual, and visual methods to examine Antonio Chuffat’s biographical narrative. The narrative, which she describes as an “autobiography within a biography of the Chinese community,” presents a “critical narrative of liberalism” (Yun 187). Yun, who speaks from a Cuban context, corrects Lesser’s emblematically […]


The personal problem I had when reading “The Queen of the Chinese Colony”—that as a self-identified member of the Chinese diaspora, I did not feel like either Miss Honduras or Miss Costa Rica could represent me—however trivial or idiosyncratic, is indicative of a larger dilemma in studies of diaspora: the inadequacy of representation. As Lok Siu explains, […]

Siu on Chinese Diasporic Performance

In the 2005 Memories of a Future Home, Lok Siu defines “diaspora,” a contested concept in postcolonial studies, Latin American studies, and ethnic studies, as “both a methodology and an epistemological framework in which to understand citizenship in a transnational context that accounts for geopolitical dynamics and people’s situated and simultaneous commitments to different cultural-political […]

Mapping Diasporic Citizenship

In Tendencies, Eve Sedgwick considers the linguistic subtleties in various translations of queer – the Indo-European root twerkw (across), “which also yields the German quer (traverse), Latin torquere (to twist), English athwart… across genders, across sexualities, across genres, across ‘perversions’” (Tendencies, xii).  Thus, the word queer indicates a process or relation that is “multiply transitive… […]

language + gender in relation to diasporic identity

Siu’s text uses the theoretical framework of diasporic citizenship in order to explore the Chinese-Panamanian community and how individuals who fall within this category interact not only with one another, but also with other Chinese-Central Americans, with Panama, China, Taiwan, the U.S and the history of imperialism and economic development that envelops these countries. In […]

Afro-Chinese in Cuba

In the text “An Afro-Chinese Author and the Next Generation,” Professor Lisa Yun examines the history of Cuba in the late 19th Century through the lens of Antonio Chuffat Latour, an Afro-Chinese author born in Cuba in 1860. Chuffat was part of the second generation of the rising Chinese presence in Cuba who witnessed a […]

“Asia” in Portugese Colonial History, Art, & Politics

In “The ‘Orient’ in the ‘New World,’” Jorge Lúzio discerns a Portugese-Asian presence in “the cultural genesis of colonial Brazil” via South/east Asia. In tracing Asian cultural influences in “baroque imagery, gastronomy, commercial relations, and customs,” Lúzio discusses the presence of Asianness in colonial Brazil prior to the 19th-century immigration of Asian subjects (35). For […]

Indo-Portuguese Iconography in the New World

In Jorge Lúzio’s essay “The Orient and the New World: The Carreira da India and the Flows between Asia and Portuguese America,” he traces the movement of Asian cultural objects, mainly religious ivory carvings, to colonial Brazil.  Rather than mapping the flows of Asian immigrants, Lúzio focuses on the way art objects, which preceded the […]


Luzio’s piece delves into the aesthetics of the ivory Christian figures that circulated through the networks of trade established within the colonies of the Portuguese empire in order to unsettle understandings of space. The very title of the piece “The ‘Orient’ in the ‘New World’” points towards the essay’s gestures of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. However, […]

Asian Brazilian Art

Jorge Luzio offers an interesting way to think about Asian influence during colonial times in the New World, especially in colonial Brazil. His text illuminates how pieces of art can be connected with everything, from different types of social networking to commerce, history, and culture. As Luzio explains, during colonial times the Portuguese Empire used […]

An Asian/American Positionality

In her book Unsettled Visions, Professor Margo Machida opens with the question: how do artists of Asian heritage, whether foreign or U.S. born, conceptualize the world and position themselves as cultural and historical subjects through the symbolic languages and media of visual art?  In the first chapter, Machida maps out multiple thematics available for considering the […]

memory + mapmaking

I was quite interested in this week’s discussion on the relationship between personal and collective memory, and the role art plays in contesting both because of the dialogic way memory works. Machida emphasizes the way in which memory is not “stored” but rather constituted through sociability, “Remembering, therefore, is necessarily dialogic, as it involves a […]

Asian American Identity

The reading “Unsettled Visions” by Professor Margo Machida opened my eyes to issues of immigration and the process of identity formation in a new country. Machida gives us a detailed description of how Asian American art has long been used as a way to invoke cultural similarities among Asian Americans and create a social presence […]

Mapping Maintenance Art

This weekend I visited the Queens Museum to see the Mierle Lederman Ukeles retrospective on her career as a feminist performance artist.  Her works, particularly her Maintenance Art Performances, have always been engaged with ecology and the infrastructure of cities. Two of the exhibitions components were incorporated into the Queens Museum’s famous Panorama of the […]

Mapping Beyond the National Bourgeoisie

Reading Lesser and Fanon together can be a way of thinking about Fanon’s argument as a framework to think through the locally specific ways in which the national bourgeoisie continues power relations from colonialism and prevents the creation of an “authentic national culture.” In other words, Lesser is the local speaking to the universals about […]

The Consciousness Manifesto

In “Trials and Tribulations of National Consciousness,” Frantz Fanon delivers a scathing indictment of the national bourgeoisie. Rather than take up its true “heroic and positive” mission of utilizing its skills and privilege to serve the people, it panders to the former colonial elite (99). According to Fanon, the national bourgeoisie of “underdeveloped” nations—the native […]

National Consciousness, Immigration and Brazil

  In “The Trials and Tribulations of National Consciousness,” Frantz Fanon argues that newly independent nations often fail to activate the so desired national consciousness, promoting mass repression instead. In order to explain his argument, Fanon gives us a psychological analysis of post-colonial societies, blaming the wealthy class as the major source of repression and […]

Torres Garcia’s “Inverted Map”

Myths of Continents raised the issue of power in relation to the ways in which space is imagined/constructed. In particular, the reading historicizes geographical categories for dividing the world (East, West, Asia, America, Africa, etc…) in order to point out their relative elasticity and how this trait comes to function in relation to (nationalist) ideology. […]

Gendered Developmentalism in Eurocentric Cartography

Today’s introductory readings from Lewis & Wigen explore, as well as critique, Orientalist cartographic discourses of East vs. West, epistemological object vs. rational mind. In mobilizing the map as not only image but also metaphor, the authors dismantle, while not entirely rejecting, this Cartesian dualism and its Enlightenment assumptions about knowledge and reason. For Lewis […]

Why Boundaries?

Martin Lewis and Karen Wigen in “The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography” address important questions regarding the world’s geography and the way in which it shapes people’s understanding of the world. Despite being commonly accepted principles, geographic divisions of the world such as countries and continents can be incredibly misleading. Thus, these spatial concepts […]

The Necessity of Categories

I’m interested in exploring two important points that Lewis and Wigen make that I feel are a bit overshadowed by their otherwise enlightening undoing of the logic of the geographical divisions we often take for granted today. The first is that “the main problem with abandoning a set structure of nonproblematic geographical entities, in exchange for an […]

NYC Digital Humanities Week

Hi everyone, NYC Digital Humanities week is Feb. 6-10. There are a ton of free workshops — including some on mapping! Thought you might be interested in checking it out. NYCDH Week By the way, is there a way we can add a new category (like “events” or “resources” or “interesting links”) for things we […]