Symposium 2016 – abstracts and bios

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Keynote speakers’ biolines and abstracts follow

Monica Moreno Figueroa


Dr. Moreno Figueroa is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Her research, teaching and publications have developed around three main topics: the lived experience of ‘race’ and racism with a focus on Mexico and Latin America; feminist theory and the interconnections between beauty, emotions and racism; and the possibilities of visual methodologies and applied research collaborations between designers, social scientists and activists. Mónica has lectured at Newcastle, Princeton and Nottingham Universities, Goldsmiths and Birkbeck College, and Colegio de Mexico. She is currently completing a book on the everyday life of racism in Mexico. Alongside Megan Rvers-Moore, Monica edited the special issue for Feminist Theory  ‘Beauty, Race and Feminist Theory in Latin America and the Caribbean’ (2013) and has published in a variety of journals and edited collections.


The complexities of the visual: antiracism, racism and beauty in Latin America

This paper will offer a methodological reflection on the challenges to research everyday phenomena marked by the constraints of the visible, specifically the lived ‘quality’ of racism and the elusive experience of beauty. By drawing on mestizo (mixed race) women’s accounts, a public campaign on everyday racism and exploring the specificity of the Latin America context, where the racial project of mestizaje is in operation, this paper will aim to discuss the challenges of antiracist practices and research.

Anna Scacchi


Prof. Scacchi teaches American Literature at the University of Padua, Italy. Her areas of research include language politics and ideologies, gender and race studies, cultural translation. She is a founding member of the research project Postcolonialitalia. She has edited books on American multilingualism (La babele americana, 2005), on the Black Atlantic (Recharting the Black Atlantic, Routledge 2008, with A. Oboe), on the mother-daughter relationship in literature (Lo specchio materno, 2005), and a special issue of the journal Ácoma on American children’s literature (2010, with C. Schiavini). She has recently translated into Italian, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s utopian novel Herland together with a selection of her short stories (Donzelli 2011). She has also recently coedited the volumes Parlare di razza. La lingua del colore tra Italia e Stati Uniti (Ombre corte, 2012, with T. Petrovich Njegosh), and Transatlantic Memories of Slavery: Reimagining the Past, Changing the Future (Cambria Press, 2015, with E. Bordin).


Blackface/whiteface: visuality, authenticity and racial performance

Blackface is a racist act rooted in the US history of minstrel shows, which has been instrumental as a strategy for racial management and control, as well as in the whitening of “ethnic” Americans. But recent scholarship has also unveiled its complex relation with the idea of authenticity, investigating its potential for the undermining of essentialized notions of blackness. Likewise, the traditional understanding of whiteface as “selling out” obscures the ways in which it works – not only in stand-up comedians’ skits – as racial performance that exposes the constructedness of whiteness. My talk will focus on the practice of “blacking up” as well as on its lesser studied counterpart, “whitening up,” using gender as a lens to explore the intertwining of identity, visual markers of race and racial performance.