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Department of American Culture pres.

Second Betty Ch'maj Distinguished American Studies Lecture: "Beyond the Decolonial Turn: The Imaginary as Will to Feel"

Emma Pérez (PhD, UCLA), Professor of Gender/Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona

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As a deconstructive tool, does the decolonial necessarily expose colonial powers, structures, laws, and institutions? What are the flaws of a decolonial theory that regards a materialist perspective while occluding the spirit of the mind and body? It is as if the method and the theory exist in parallel universes, never to touch or entice each other but instead battle in a false binary. And yet, we cannot have theory without method; we cannot have a materialist, grounded “real” critique without the affective body, without the people who feel, who touch, who experience and imagine other ways of being. The imagination, after all, is the door to creativity, to other ways of being and knowing. Overall, the real without the imaginary lacks vision and affirms a two- dimensional, uninspired ontology and epistemology. I’m posing the “will to feel” as a mode that reasserts the imaginary within the decolonial. Ultimately, can the “will to feel” transform us and the toxic world we inhabit in the 21st century?

There will be a light reception following the lecture.

Dr. Emma Pérez earned a PhD in history from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2017, she joined the University of Arizona as a Research Social Scientist at the Southwest Center and a Professor in the Department of Gender/Women’s Studies. Pérez has published fiction, essays and the history monograph, The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History (1999). Her novels include, Gulf Dreams (1996); Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory (2009), which earned the Isherwood Writing Grant (2009) and 2nd place in Historical Fiction from International Latino Books (2010). Her most recent novel, Electra’s Complex (2016) is a mystery set in an east coast college. She continues to research and write about LGBT Chicanx/Latinx through a queer of color lens.

ATTN: There will also be a private brunch with Emma Pérez for Graduate Students. RSVP required: https://forms.gle/5fNfoMHzPhEFzUH98

About the Betty Ch’maj Lecture: With generous support from the Ch’maj family, the Annual Betty Ch’maj Distinguished American Studies Lecture Series was established to honor the legacy of Betty Ch’maj. Ch'maj, who was awarded the very first Ph.D. in American Culture in 1961 at Michigan, continued her career researching American literature and music, founding the Radical Caucus of ASA, and working to challenge systematic gender discrimination in American Studies programs.
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