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Curatorial Constellations: Queer and Feminist Approaches to Latin American Comics



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Aramburu Villavisencio, Andrea  ORCID logo


This thesis takes queer and feminist approaches to contemporary alternative Latin American comics published between 2011 and 2020. Inspired by frameworks developed by Gayatri Gopinath, José Muñoz, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, I coin the category of curatorial constellations to understand how this corpus of comics performs relational ontologies of subjectivity. With this notion, I inquire into the affordances of the comics medium for the expression of ordinary, intermedial and queer subjectivities. The comics selected for analysis are by Catalina Bu (Chile), Otto Etraud (Chile), Powerpaola (Ecuador/Colombia), Adriana Lozano (Colombia), and Jazmín Varela (Argentina) (Part I); Nacha Vollenweider (Argentina), Victoria Rodríguez (Argentina), Silvana Unyas (Peru), the collective No tengo miedo (Peru) and Ana Paula Machuca (Peru) (Part II); and Inés Estrada (Mexico) and Taís Koshino (Brazil) (Part III). Part I: Ordinary constellations explores a set of comics – from diary comics to ‘inventories’ of portraits – that explore the limits of subjectivity and agency in a shapeless and stretched-out present. The first two sections (Catalina Bu, Otto Etraud, Powerpaola) draw on theories of failed futurity, neoliberalism, and relationality, to ask about the limits and possibilities of collective existence within a world where subjects are left to be self-sufficient and author their own frames. The third section (Powerpaola, Lozano, Varela) proposes the serialising of portraits as an aesthetic technique to sketch out an ethics of alterity. Part II: Intermedial constellations studies comics that employ intermedial aesthetic gestures to dialogue with material cultures and media from colonial and Andean pasts: the illustrated chronicles of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (Vollenweider); pre-Columbian ceramics (Rodríguez); traditional Andean materialities such as the coca leaf and natural fabrics and dyes (Unyas); and third-gender ritualised subjectivities (No tengo miedo). I argue that these comics engage with notions of identity and collectivity in ways that need to be thought in relation to a history of coloniality. In the final section, I propose a decolonial and intermedial interpretation of Machuca’s mini comic Un día. Part III: Queer constellations develops a curatorial reading of a collection of comics by Estrada and a mixed-media comic by Koshino. I argue that these works operate as queer aesthetic devices that foreground a shared materiality between humans and non-humans, encouraging changes in perception in the reader (Estrada), and that they can produce maps of relational subjectivities via an intersectional approach that considers gender, race, and region (Koshino). Overall, the thesis proposes a feminist, queer, and decolonial methodology for reading comics. I suggest that comics can formally accommodate multidirectional perspectives and that the prominence they give to the spatial offers a surface for non-linear temporalities to emerge in the creation of meaning and allows for an embodied mapping of subjectivity with respect to matter of different kinds.





Page, Joanna


Comics studies, Latin American Studies, Queer theory, Feminist Theory, Latin American comics


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge