Mesas de diálogo: subjectification South-North

These mesas de diálogo create a space of dialogue and discussion where, from a postcolonial context, the main Anglo North American theories that have defined how we understand subjectivation and its relation with visual culture, contemporary art, and social theory are problematized.

Studies on performative gender/sex theories can be divided into two broad categories: the scholarship produced by academics in Latin America, and the studies done on Latin America but produced in Anglo-Saxon universities (sometimes by Latin or Latin American scholars). These two categories arbitrarily divide the work done about gender, sex, and sexuality (and their relationship with visual culture) to studies done in either English or Spanish. More than a separation in terms of language, this division is cultural, methodological, and political, and points to different ways of understanding the process of subjectivation.

The lack of dialogue between academics doing work in English or in Spanish is evident in the use of the common terminology employed in gender/sex studies. This article maps some of the tensions between the different linguistic and cultural uses of the terms most often employed such as: gay, transvestite, and queer and their adoptions and adaptations in Latin America, focusing especially in Mexico.

Taking this into consideration, these mesas de diálogo, contribute to the almost inexistent space for dialogue between Anglo North American theorists and Latin American scholars working in similar topics from different cultural and historical contexts, therefore producing different theoretical engagements.


Gender Performativity, Precarity, and Sexual Citizenship,

March 24 2015

Judith Butler
Leticia Sabsay


Performance and the Queer and Feminist Body in Contemporary Art

October 2015

Amelia Jones
Julia Antivilo


Trans Theory and Social Change

March 2016

Dean Spade


Homonationalism and Pigmentocracy

October 2016

Jasbir Puar
Susana Vargas

Mesa 01: Gender Performativity, Precarity, and Sexual Citizenship,

March 24 2015
10 - 13 hrs.

Ciudad de México
Biblioteca Vasconcelos
Streaming online

Registration online will be start March 10 at 10 am.
Without registration there is no admission .


Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as Founding Director . She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University in 1984 on the French Reception of Hegel. She is the author of Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (Columbia University Press, 1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge, 1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (Routledge, 1993), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (Stanford University Press, 1997), Excitable Speech (Routledge, 1997), Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (Columbia University Press, 2000), Precarious Life: Powers of Violence and Mourning (2004); Undoing Gender (2004), Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging (with Gayatri Spivak in 2008), Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?(2009), and Is Critique Secular? (co-written with Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, and Saba Mahmood, 2009). Her most recent books include: Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012) and Dispossessions: The Performative in the Political (2013), co-authored with Athena Athanasiou, and Sois Mon Corps (2011), co-authored with Catherine Malabou.

Leticia Sabsay is Fellow in Gender and Cultural Studies, London School of Economics, since September 2014. Prior to this, she held a lectureship at the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London, and was a research associate at the Department of Politics and International Studies, The Open University, appointed to the European Research Council Project, Oecumene Citizenship after Orientalism. Previous to her experience in the UK, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Freie Universitat of Berlin (Germany), and was a lecturer at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina). Her work interrogates the entanglement between sexuality, subjectivity and the political as processes of cultural translation, both across disciplines and transnational contexts. Throughout her career, Leticia also developed an enduring interest in theories of performativity and discourse, which led her to publish extensively on Judith’s Butler work. This perspective has been central to her current research on the deployment of contemporary imaginaries of sexual freedom and justice in popular culture and political discourse.  Her most recent publications include: Queering the Politics of Global Sexual Rights? Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 13(1): 80-90 (2013). The Emergence of the Other Sexual Citizen. Orientalism and the Modernisation of Sexuality. Citizenship Studies, 16(5/6): 605-623 (2012). and On some paradoxes of sexual citizenship (Sobre algunas paradojas de la ciudadanía sexual), Latin American Journal Debates & Combates, 3: 137-162.

Some of the questions that will guide this discussion are:

How is subjectivation constituted through gender performativity, and sexual citizenship in a pigmentocratic context? How does subject intelligibility work in a sociocultural pigmentocratic society?

How is it different and similar to be “gay”, to perform the speech act “I’m gay” or “I’m queer” in Latin America than Anglo North America? What are the cultural tensions of translating these terms and speech acts?

Indeed, gender is a site of agency and resistance. Thus, how to then exercise this resistance in a pigmentocratic system, where precarity is lived most by those with darker skin tones/lower economical social positions? In understanding the tensions and impasses, in cultural translations, how can we think of solidarity between Latin America than Anglo North America? Where is our power to object together the State (United States)?

Suggested readings:

  • Butler, J. (2015). Performativity, precarity and sexual politics, Revista de Antropologia Iberoamericana, 4 (3): i-xiii
  • Butler, J. (2013). Dispossession: The Performative in the Political, coauthored with Athena Athanasiou. Polity Press.
  • Butler, J. (2009). Critique, Dissent, Disciplinarity. Critical Inquiry, 35 (4):773-795.
  • Butler, J. (2007). El género en disputa. Paidos. [1990]. Available here.
  • Sabsay, L. (2013). Queering the Politics of Global Sexual Rights? Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 13(1): 80-90.
  • Sabsay, L. (2014). ‘The promise of citizenship: autonomy and abject choices’, Open Democracy, 24 March. Available here.
  • Sabsay, L. (2013). Queer Dilemmas: Orientalism and Liberal Citizenship. In dialogue with Leticia Sabsay (Dilemas Queer: Orientalism y Ciudadanías Liberales. Un diálogo con L. Sabsay), Iconos Revista Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO-Ecuador), 47: 103-118.
  • Sabsay, L. (2011). Fronteras Sexuales. Espacio Urbano, Cuerpos y Ciudadanía. Buenos Aires: Paidós.
  • Vargas, S. (2014). Saliendo del closet: ¿gay, maricón o queer? La memoria y el deseo. Estudios gay y queer en México. PUEG. UNAM.

Mesa 02: Performance and the Queer and Feminist Body in Contemporary Art

October 2015

Amelia Jones
Julia Antivilo

Amelia Jones, Robert A. Day Professor of Art and Design and Vice Dean of Critical Studies, is known as a feminist art historian, a scholar of performance studies, and a curator. Dr. Jones previously taught at McGill University (Montreal), University of Manchester (UK) and University of California, Riverside. Her recent publications include major essays on Marina Abramović (in TDR), books and essays on feminist art and curating (including the edited volume Feminism and Visual Culture Reader (new edition 2010)), and on performance art histories. Her book, Self Image: Technology, Representation, and the Contemporary Subject (2006) was followed in 2012 by Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts and her major volume, Perform Repeat Record: Live Art in History, co-edited with Adrian Heathfield. Her exhibition Material Traces: Time and the Gesture in Contemporary Art took place in 2013 in Montreal and her edited volume Sexuality was released in 2014 in the Whitechapel "Documents" series. Her new projects address the confluence of "queer," "feminist," and "performance" in relation to the visual arts.

Julia Antivilo


Mesa 03: Trans Theory and Social Change

March 2016

Dean Spade

Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law. He teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, and Law and Social Movements.  He is the founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform and public education on issues affecting these communities and operates on a collective governance model, prioritizing the governance and leadership of trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people of color.

Mesa 04: Homonationalism and Pigmentocracy

October 2016

Jasbir Puar

Jasbir Puar is associate professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at Rutgers University (USA). She has also been a visiting lecturer in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU and a visiting fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin. She received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999 and an M.A. from the University of York, England, in Women’s Studies in 1993. She is the author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Duke University Press 2007), which won the 2007 Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association of Asian American Studies. A redacted version of Terrorist Assemblages has been translated into French as Homonationalisme. Politiques Queers après le 11 Semptembre (Editions Amsterdam, 2012). Puar’s forthcoming monograph, Affective Politics: States of Debility and Capacity (Duke University Press 2014) takes up the questions of disability in the context of theories of bodily assemblages that trouble intersectional identity frames.

Susana Vargas is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council postdoctoral student at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She holds a doctoral degree in Communication Studies at McGill University. Her current research focuses on the different cultural understandings of gender and sexuality in Latin America and Anglo-America. She is the author of the book Mujercitos (Editorial RM), and with Will Straw and Graciela Martínez Zalce she is the co-editor of the book Apprehending the criminal: media and society in North America (UNAM, 2011), and has recently published Alarma! Mujercitos performing gender in Mexico 1970” (TSQ, Duke 2014), Saliendo del clóset: ¿gay, maricón o queer? (Pueg- UNAM 2014), among others.


An anthology will be published after all the Mesas are completed,
but we will also publish online some of the advances in this page.
The first one will come out May 2015.


Susana Vargas Cervantes
Logistics Team:
Beatriz Garduño
Mariana Flores

While pursuing a doctoral degree, I realized there was a lack of dialogue between Anglo North American and Latin American theorist working on the same topics, I then thought of creating a space for exchanging of ideas.

The mesas de diálogo project consist on a seminar in which, after reading the two authors that will dialogue in an specific topic, we come up with the questions for the discussion. These questions are sent in advance to the author.


Collaborators Mesa 1

Thanks to:

Fernando Mesta, Jessica Berlanga, Julien Salabelle, Irmgard Emmelhainz, Gabriela Jauregui, Helena López, Michel Fidler, Susana Richter, Natalia Comel, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Cristina Paoli, Abeyamí Ortega, Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo y Mecky Reuss