Arts Building, Riverside, CA 92507

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Iván A. Ramos (Brown University)

 “Unbelonging: Inauthentic Sounds in Mexican and Latinx Aesthetics”

What is the connection between the British rock star Morrissey and the Latinx culture of transnational “unbelonging”? What is the relevance of “dyke chords” in Chicana feminist punk and lesbian dissolution? In what ways can dissonant sounds challenge systems of dominance?

Unbelonging answers these questions and more through an exploration into Mexican and US-based Latinx artists’, writers’, and creators’ use of the discordant sounds of punk, metal, and rock to give voice to the aesthetic of “unbelonging,” a rejection of consumerist and nationalist mentalities. Iván A. Ramos argues that racial identity and belonging have historically required legible forms of performance. Sound has been the primary medium that amplifies and is used to assign cultural citizenship and, for Latinx individuals, legibility is essential to music perceived as traditional and authentic to their national origins. In the context of twentieth-century neoliberal policies, which cemented the concept of “citizen” within logics of consumerism and capitalism, Ramos turns to focus on Latinx artists, writers, and audiences, who produce experimental and often “inauthentic” performances and installations in sonic subcultures to reject new definitions of economic citizenship.

Iván A. Ramos is assistant professor in the Department of Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. He was previously an assistant professor in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland and a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He received his PhD in Performance Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from UC Berkeley. Iván is originally from Tijuana, Mexico.

Iván’s broader research investigates the links and slippages between transnational Latino/a American aesthetics in relationship to the everydayness of contemporary and historical violence. In particular, he is interested in how the aesthetic may provide a way to engage with an ethics of difference. In addition to his first book, Unbelonging: Inauthentic Sounds in Mexican and Latinx Aesthetics, Iván is currently at work on a second book project, tentatively titled Mourning Without Bodies, which argues that experimental aesthetics provide a way to grapple with ongoing violence in the Americas without relying on biographical narratives that limit collective mourning to certain “proper” subjects. He has published on subjects ranging from the Chicana artist Xandra Ibarra, the work of the late scholar José Esteban Muñoz, and the aesthetics of the tv show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, among other subjects.


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Credit for the Ivan Ramos photo: Amina Cruz.

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  • andré carrington
  • Jaden De La Cruz
  • Janice Shih

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