This question is a timely one to ask as the semester begins. I’m continuing to make my way through coursework while also working towards completing my program’s next benchmark, the IDP. In coursework I’m constantly immersed with new and exciting theories&texts, making my task of selecting an IDP topic challenging. The IDP is rooted in original research, should draw on at least two modes of inquiry, and should mark a familiarity with the relevant theoretical literature. I have some ideas - I just need to narrow. Blogging weekly will hopefully help with this process. In this semester's first musing I’ll tackle the simple yet complex question, “so what?”
With these questions and curiosities in mind, my attention has focused on images of mixed-race bodies. Do these images of mixed-race people contribute to a post-racial myth? How do these images get circulated? How might these images objectify mixed-race bodies? How might they also restrict understandings of mixedness? What do I mean by mixedness? How could we represent/document/portray mixedness as a bodily phenomenon without subjecting mixed people to objectification or glorification? How does mixedness contribute to anti-black racism? How is mixedness always already framed by whiteness? How does mixedness offer a way to move beyond dichotomous identity categorizations?
While the body is usually characterized in physical and external terms, I want to think of how mixed people are more than that. I’m eager to explore how mixed people enact their mixedness beyond the flesh or photographic image. How does mixedness become an intentional mode of navigating public space or a queer way of building relationships? What would happen if we view mixedness less as an exotic set of features and more as a borderlands consciousness?
I’ll use visual culture to critique the objectification/glorification that occurs within the images of mixed bodies. Then will use queer of color critique and women of color feminism to think about this form of consciousness. I think this form of consciousness can be traced not in the images of mixed people, but in the mixed-up narratives they construct themselves; cultural productions such as memoir and poetry.
If the social materializes in the flesh, how can mixedness transcend the subject-object duality that Anzaldúa speaks of? Maybe I'm less concerned with the body and more concerned with how a mixed person is racialized as such as well as the effects of this racialization. I wonder not only how mixedness is embodied, but how that embodiment is transformed/evolved into a form of consciousness.
“The work of mestiza consciousness is to break down the subject-object duality that keeps her a prisoner and to show in the flesh and through the images in her work how duality is transcended. ... A massive uprooting of dualistic thinking in the individual and collective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war” (102) - Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.