This class takes a transnational feminist approach to the study of sexuality in the Americas and pays special attention to the ways in which sexuality operates as a nexus of power for the regulation of populations in the American hemisphere. The first four weeks aim to establish how racial and sexual difference are foundational to the development of American nation-states.
We begin with the role of sexual violation in conquering the Americas and explore how the “discovery” of the Americas was inextricably linked to the sexualization of native women. How do these foundational sexual encounters continue to shape national racial/sexual identities today? How do feminist and queer theorists reframe these encounters? The next section investigates how slavery shaped constructions of black femininity and masculinity in the US and the Caribbean. We will contextualize the “one-drop-rule” understanding of race in the US with the racial projects of mestizaje and mulatez in Latin America.
The remaining six weeks investigate how these foundational racial and sexual projects continue to shape public policy regarding reproduction, immigration, and labor in the contemporary neoliberal political climate.
This course combines feminist and queer theory with scholarship from a variety of academic disciplines (history, literature, sociology, anthropology) in order to provide students with different perspectives on sexuality in Latin America and the US.
We do not intend to cover every form of sexual expression/identity, or every nation in the Americas—rather, the course seeks to provide a critical framework for investigating the mutual constitution of race and sexuality in a transnational American context.