Charis welcomes Rachel Afi Quinn in conversation with Erica Williams for a lunchtime discussion of Being La Dominicana: Race and Identity in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo. Rachel Afi Quinn investigates how visual media portray Dominican women and how women represent themselves in their own creative endeavors in response to existing stereotypes.
Delving into the dynamic realities and uniquely racialized gendered experiences of women in Santo Domingo, Quinn reveals the way racial ambiguity and color hierarchy work to shape experiences of identity and subjectivity in the Dominican Republic. She merges analyses of context and interviews with young Dominican women to offer rare insights into a Caribbean society in which the tourist industry and popular media reward, and rely upon, the ability of Dominican women to transform themselves to perform gender, race, and class.
Engaging and astute, Being La Dominicana reveals the little-studied world of today's young Dominican women and what their personal stories and transnational experiences can tell us about the larger neoliberal world.
Rachel Afi Quinn is an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Houston. She earned her Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2012. Her writing has been published in Small Axe, The Black Scholar, Meridians, Latin American & Latinx Visual Culture, Sinister Wisdom, and Burlington Contemporary. Her first book, Being La Dominicana: Race and Gender in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo, was published in August 2021 with University of Illinois Press. Dr. Quinn was also part of a filmmaking team that produced the documentary Cimarrón Spirit (2015) about contemporary Afro-Dominican identities and she initiated the digital humanities project and working group Black. Migration. Houston. In 2017, she co-founded the feminist collective South Asian Youth in Houston Unite to provide mentorship and a social justice summer institute for South Asian young people in Houston. Dr. Quinn was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. She is passionate about black art and film and teaches courses at UH on black girlhood, feminist theory, and globalization.
Erica Lorraine Williams is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Spelman College. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University, and her B.A. in Anthropology and Africana Studies from New York University. Her first book, Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements (2013), won the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize. She also co-edited The Second Generation of African American Pioneers in Anthropology (2018), and has published peer-reviewed journal articles in Feminist Anthropology, Transforming Anthropology, Feminist Studies, Gender, Place, and Culture; and several book chapters in edited volumes. She is currently working on two book manuscripts: 1) Fighting for a Good Life: Black Feminist Activism in Bahia and 2) Take Flight: A Black Feminist Autoethnographic Travel Memoir. She is the Book and Film Review Editor for Transforming Anthropology, the journal of the Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA), and she serves on the Governing Council of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA). Winner of the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award, she teaches courses on gender and sexuality, race and identity in Latin America, globalization, and feminist ethnography. She is an Advisory Board Member for VidaAfroLatina, an emerging international women’s fund that mobilizes resources and connects them with Afro-descendant women-led organizations in Latin America that address sexual violence.
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Rachel Afi Quinn investigates how visual media portray Dominican women and how women represent themselves in their own creative endeavors in response to existing stereotypes.