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Faculty Fall 2019: Judith Sierra-Rivera, PhD

Vulnerable Males: Feminist and Sovereign Performances of Heterosexual Masculinity in the Caribbean

Assistant Professor of Spanish and Latina/o Studies

Vulnerable Males: Feminist and Sovereign Performances of Heterosexual Masculinity in the Caribbean

My research project focuses on Caribbean heterosexual males that (un)willingly speak, feel, and pose in such a way that emotionally opens them up and moves them toward empowered communities integrated by gender and sexual differences, where they become a minority. If, as African American feminist bell hooks has established, the most radical action men can take against patriarchy is “to choose life over death” (2004, xvii), then I argue that many vulnerable male subjects practice a feminist sovereignty, that is, a freedom that rejects the male privilege to dominate and annihilate others. In my study, I conceive vulnerability as a series of political tactics that actively move bodies away from violent structures. It is in this movement that a different idea of a sovereign Caribbean geography can also emerge. In dialogue with "vulnerability," I understand sovereignty as a native category that matters for those who use the concept because they feel dispossessed of freedom, but also as a normative ideal that Western nation-states have imposed on (post)colonial societies. In the literary and visual materials I study, whenever a heterosexual man challenges machismo, there is a previous experience in which inhabiting vulnerability has been more effective than violence to advance an anticolonialist agenda and sovereign communities.