Tuesday 8th April

Silverstone, Room 325, 1-2pm

Speakers:
Victoria Carroll (Kings College London)
Matthew Hurley (Oxford Brookes University)

Chair:

Dr Synne Dyvik (University of Sussex, School of Global Studies)

Abstracts:
Victoria Carroll – “Just Like AIDS”: Transforming Blood-Mixing in Queer Latino Cultural Production

In 2009, Residente, the Puerto Rican lead singer of urban music group Calle 13, accepted the position of International Ambassador for the Latino Commission on AIDS. At the gala benefit hosted in New York he took to the stage to address the largely Latino audience armed with an intriguing speech: “I was thinking…about how “polluted” [Latinos] supposedly are. That for some, we are like a plague, just like AIDS. Because we have been able to mingle as a people, because we are and have been able to take in all races, all colors.” For Residente, the mixing of blood and the construction of racial hybridity echoed other narratives of deviance and decline circulating in American society. Certainly the rise of Latino studies and the arrival of HIV/AIDS have happened simultaneously (the seminal feminist-of-colour anthology, This Bridge Called My Back, was published the year that the first cases of AIDS were reported) yet virtually no scholarship has spoken to this intriguing conflation of race, sexuality and disease.

Addressing this lacuna, this paper contends that as blood-mixing transformed in U.S. discourse from a celebrated (and feared) marker of Latino/a identity to an arbiter of corporeal decline, linked to the flow of contaminated bodily fluids, an array of underrepresented queer Latino writers, artists and performers began to construct new narratives, which imagined blood-mixing as an vector of hybrid identities which indexed both their racial and cultural history, their non-normative sexualities, and their negotiation of illness. Tracing these images across a diverse range of obscure cultural producers, this paper asks what it means to be of “mixed blood” at the end of the twentieth-century.

Matthew Hurley – Watermelons & Weddings: NATO, Strategic Femininities and the Gender Perspective

This paper analyses the construction and strategic deployment of particular femininities by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as it seeks to integrate a ‘gender perspective’ into its operational planning in response to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the wider ‘Women, Peace and Security’ agenda. Taking a narrative analytical approach (Wibben, 2011) the paper focuses on the (re)telling of two stories of success, one surrounding the cultivation of watermelon in Sangin Province and the other, the preparation for a wedding. Both stories are presented in official NATO documentation as successful case studies in the use of the ‘gender perspective’; as well as being retold by NATO military personnel within the institutional setting of NATO HQ during semi-structured interviews. I argue that the (re)telling and use of these stories by the organisation call into being, institutionalise and then codify particular understandings of militarised femininity, embodied by the  female soldiers deployed to Afghanistan. Furthermore, these (essentialised) understandings of femininity, constructed within the hegemonic masculine context of an international security organisation, serve to severely restrict understandings of female agency whilst being used to advance NATO’s operational effectiveness. In short, the ‘gender perspective’ limits female agency whilst being simultaneously promoted as a way of advancing the role
of women in NATO missions.

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