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Dissertation: Urban Chicanx/Latinx Art and Cultural Production in Phoenix, Arizona. 'Mujeres del Desierto': Cultural Identity, Eco-somaesthetics and Urban Space in the Work of Stella Pope Duarte, La Morena and Annie Lopez

This event last occurred July 6, 2020

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This dissertation explores contemporary Chicanx/Latinx art and cultural production in Phoenix, Arizona and its role in shaping and asserting a cultural identity and experience that is unique to this area of the southwestern United States. I examine the work of three female creatives spanning three generations who have used their art to represent, mitigate, and embody their experiences as Chicanx/Latinx subjects living in the Borderlands: Stella Pope Duarte (b. 1948), Lucinda Y Hinojos (La Morena) (b. 1981), and Annie Lopez (b. 1958). Through an examination of their artistic production traversing various media, including literature, urban art and photography, I seek to show how they embrace the aesthetic activism and ideals of the Chicano Art Movement set within a contemporary context, while dialoguing with the local and global discourses that inform their realities. 

The theoretical framework I employ is grounded in principles surrounding body-space-place, specifically the notions of somaesthetics (Shusterman 1996), barriology-barrioization (Villa 2000), and Thirdspace (Soja 1996). These theories are contextualized within the framework of borderland theory and Chicanx feminism, utilizing borderland spaces as a trope to combat traditional power structures and dichotomies while exploring the complexity and fluidity of transborder identities. I maintain that their work has contributed to Phoenix’s social and material landscapes through the articulation of a space/place-specific, hybrid Borderland identity grounded in the social, ecological and physical realities of life in the “Valley of the Sun”. Their artistic expressions enable a process of placemaking and community building that serves to unite and empower the Chicanx/Latinx community through self-representation, cultural affirmation and collective healing. This dissertation seeks to demonstrate that their work contributes to uniting and empowering the Chicanx/Latinx community vis-á-vis a process of allowing for the definition of a Latinx space that is both physical and imaginary. Overall, this dissertation contributes to an urgent gap in academic research surrounding Chicanx/Latinx cultural and artistic production in Phoenix. I hope to honor the presence and contributions of a long-established community and stimulate further investigation on this topic, proving that there is something worth talking about here in Phoenix.


For More Information Contact:

Monica Hopkins
School of International Letters and Cultures