13 Racial Impersonation in the Americas


Racial impersonation is an act of occupation in which one takes literal and figurative possession of the other. It is an act of surrogation, a citational practice and the idiom through which racial sentiment is signified and expressed. This work group invites investigations of performances of racial parody across the Americas, including blackface, yellowface, redface, skin-bleaching etc, particularly in the context of humor and satire. We ask: what do parodic representations of blackness, indigeneity, Asianness and racial others tell us about race and racial formation in the Americas? How do such performances affirm and re-constitute stereotypes of social others? Why does racial impersonation persist as a site of laughter and humor across the Americas? How do racial others employ racial parody to engage with hegemonic representations of blackness, Asianness or indigeneity? How do colonial understandings of race persist through genealogies of racial impersonation? We welcome studies of racial impersonation in embodied practice, visual and popular culture including cartoons, art exhibits, festivals, film, theatre and performance art and a vast array of cultural phenomena.

Format and Structure:

Each work group participant will have 20 minutes to present a paper, followed by an active discussion of the paper with the rest of the participants. The last session of the work group will be a general discussion of themes and questions that arise during previous sessions.

Languages spoken/understood by conveners:

English and Spanish


Danielle Roper is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in the Romance Languages Department at the University of Chicago. She graduated with a PhD from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University in 2015 where she defended her dissertation Inca Drag Queens and Hemispheric Blackface: Contemporary Blackface and Drag performance from the Andes to Jamaica. She is currently writing a book entitled Hemispheric Blackface: Impersonation and Multiculturalism in the Americas.

Cristel M. Jusino Díaz completed her PhD in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University. She holds a Masters in Spanish from NYU in Madrid and a BA in Latin American Studies from the Universidad de Puerto Rico-Recinto de Río Piedras. Her dissertation, "Balance Prepóstumo: Queer Temporality and Latin American Literature, 1983-1993", focuses on questions of queer temporality in Latin American literature written during the HIV-AIDS crisis. She is the Assistant Director of Student Affairs at the Graduate School of Arts and Science at NYU.

Ricardo Gamboa is an award-winning artist, activist and academic creating radically politicized work in their native Chicago and New York City. Gamboa is a member of Free Street Theater and founder of the ensemble The Young Fugitives, and a member of the New York Neo-Futurists. They are finishing doctoral studies in American Studies at NYU. Gamboa has a Joyce Award and an International Connections Award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Their current projects include the underground news show The Hoodoisie, the, community-based theater piece Meet Juan(ito) Doe and the web series BRUJOS.

Liliana Angulo is a multi-media artist, researcher, educator, and curator from Colombia whose work has been featured in exhibits across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Her work engages questions of the body, the image, and their relationship to constructs of gender, ethnicity, language, history, and politics. Angulo has also pursued several collaborative projects with social organizations throughout the African diaspora. In 2015, she was among a group of Afro-Colombian artists who founded "Colectivo Aguaturbia" and who organized a gathering for Afro-Colombian artists entitled “Encuentro de Artistas y Agentes Culturales Imaginación Radical Afro I.R.A.” Angulo currently lives in Colombia.


  • Amarilis Pérez-Vera
  • Antônio Souza
  • Eduardo Leão
  • Emily (Nell) Haynes
  • Joiri Minaya
  • Katelyn Wood
  • Krizia Laureano Ruiz
  • Luis Arturo García
  • Mateus Gonçalves
  • Matthew Leslie Santana
  • Paula Valentina Roa Dueñas
  • Quanda Johnson