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Performances as feminist, queer, and trans activism, from theater and flash mobs to street protests and online manifestos

Table of contents

Part I. Digital and Direct Action
1. ‘An Explosion of Feminism:’ Dramaturgies of Excess and Revolution in Chile’s New Feminist  / Jennifer Joan Thompson
2. General Strike: Feminist Performance? / Vanessa Gubbins
3.  ‘How Does a Woman Poet Fuck?’: A Gloss/ary on the Possibilities of Chola Transfeminisms /  Olga Rodríguez-Ulloa
4. Digital Testimonio: (Re)Counting Femicide in Cuba / Candice Amich
5. Performing Contemporary Feminisms in Transnational Mexico: #MiPrimerAcoso and #MeToo / Ever Osorio
Part II. Beyond Bad Scripts
6. Performance and Activism in the Peruvian Post-Dictatorship Era: ‘We Are 2074 and Many More’ / Bethsabé Huamán Andía
7. The Caravana of Central American Mothers in Mexico: Protesting Migrant Disappearance on a Transnational Stage-in-Motion / Ana Elena Puga
8.  Resisting ‘Bad Scripts’ in Atabal Creación Artistica’s Yo no quiero ser Desdémona / Sarah Alice Campbell
9. Acts of Commemoration: Liberating Salomé Ureña from the Dominican Pantheon / Camilla Stevens
10. Women’s Testimonies on Stage: Femicides Across the US-Mexico Border / Paola Hernández
Part III. Dissident Bodies, Rebellious Objects
11. Maximiliano Mamani/Bartolina Xixa: Queer Indigenous Performance at the Edge of a Decaying World / Tara Daly
12.  Feeling Chola: Giuseppe Campuzano’s and Germain Machuca’s No-Place Performances / Leticia Robles-Moreno
13. The Political is Personal: Performing Surreal Bodies of Evidence in Necropolitical Brazil / Carla Melo
14. Grotesque Dramaturgy and Gender Critique in the Post-Dictatorship Southern Cone / Anne García-Romero
15. Cuir/Queer Afro-Cuban and Xicanx Transnational Encounters: Debora Kuetzpal Vasquez’s Dualidad: Todas las partesde mi ser / Mariela Mendez and Patricia Herrera
Part IV. Taking to the Streets: Festive Forms and Public Protest
16. Between the White and Green Scarves: Vibrant Assemblages of Feminist Insubordination / Cecilia Sosa
17. Feathering Foes: Mickey Negrón’s Religious Transloca Ritual / Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
18. De eso sí se habla: The Politics of Abortion in La Máscara’s Maria Farrar / Marcelo Carosi
19. Modestia aparte: Women’s Rights in the First All-women Feminist Murga in Argentina / Manuela Borzone
20. Polleras, Protest, and Pile-Drivers: Staging Spectacular Violence in Bolivia / Nell Haynes


Revolutionary feminism, queer, and trans activist movements are traversing Latin America and the Caribbean. Bodies on the Front Lines situates recent performances and protests within legacies of homegrown gender and sexual rights activism from the South. Performances—enacted in public spaces and intimate venues, across national borders, and through circulating hashtags and digital media—play crucial roles in the elaboration, auto-theorization, translation, and reception of feminist, queer, and trans activism. Movements such as Argentina's NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) have brought masses of protesters and “artivists” on the streets of major cities in Latin America and beyond to denounce gender violence and demand gender, sexual, and reproductive rights. 
The volume’s contributors draw from rich legacies of theater, performance, and activism in the region, as well as decolonial and intersectional theorizing, to demonstrate the ways that performance practices enable activists to sustain their movements. The chapters engage diverse perspectives from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, transnational Central America, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Rather than taking an approach that simplifies complexities among states, Bodies on the Front Lines takes seriously the geopolitical stakes of examining Latin America and the Caribbean as a heterogeneous site of nations and networks. In chapters covering this wide geographical area, leading scholars in the fields of theater and performance studies showcase the aesthetic, social, and political work of performance in generating and fortifying gender and sexual activism in the Americas.

Brenda Werth is Associate Professor of Latin American and Spanish Studies at American University. 
Katherine Zien is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at McGill University.

“Brings together innovative analyses of a region rich with, and enriched by, politically relevant performance, while expanding the meaning of performance itself and situating it in critical scholarship. Bodies on the Front Lines illuminates the complex contexts and specificities of a range of feminist and queer(ed) performance within the larger goal of ‘decentering and decolonizing cultural narratives’ of a region where such performance makes visible — and challenges — gender-based, intersectional violences.”

- Elisabeth Jay Friedman, University of San Francisco

Bodies on the Front Lines works as a kaleidoscope that expands notions of feminism, its subjects, and the role feminism serves within broader politics. The collection provides a balanced account of feminist and queer/cuir works in Latin America and the Caribbean, their intersections and divergences, and their transversal organizing modalities at a moment in which intersectional feminisms in the region are leading the way toward sociopolitical transformation.”

- Marcela Fuentes, Northwestern University

“Introduces English-speaking readers to the rich panoply of political performances in Latin America with intersectional critiques of state violence toward women, queer and femme subjects, particularly those marked as indigenous or black, and introduces readers to feminist theorists from the global south. This is a truly excellent volume that stands alone, in being concerned with transfeminism and performance.”

- Patricia Ybarra, Brown University

ReadBodies on the Front Lines: Feminism and Performance Activism Blog Post | April 24, 2024