Histories of Violence and Contested Spaces: The Politics of Art and Institutionalization

The second panel of the UC President's Postdoctoral Fellows Symposium features Javier Arbona (UC Davis), Jerry Flores (UCSF), and Juan Herrera (UCLA). These current fellows discuss Puerto Rican art, juvenile detention, and the racial effects of tax reform on Latino non-profits on Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 10:00am-12:00pm, in the Charles E. Merrill Lounge.

December 18, 2014

By , Assistant Professor, LALS 

UC President's Postdoctoral Fellows Symposium
Panel 2:  Histories of Violence and Contested Spaces:  The Politics of Art and Institutionalization

Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 10:00am-12:00pm, Charles E. Merrill Lounge


Javier Arbona HeadshotExplosive Messages: Contested Lands in Puerto Rican Art

Javier Arbona, American Studies Program, UC Davis

This research project explores work by contemporary artists in Puerto Rico.  I study how practicing artists are addressing the intertwined conditions of neoliberal austerity and colonialism by making the notion of "land" a central question to their creation.  I am interested in how and why a number of practicing Puerto Rican artists engage with geography at a time when the "commonwealth" status under United States rule is widely perceived as having run its course.  Some of the works from this cohort reveal histories of violence embedded in landscapes.  Other pieces explore affect to generate a new, post-commonwealth politics of place.  Although diverse, this generation's output hints at an emergent geopolitical imagination that resists market-imposed models of national resilience, sustainability, and development in times of insecurity.




Jerry Flores Headshot“Staff Here Let You Get Down":  The Cultivation and Co-optation of Violence in a California Juvenile Detention Center
Jerry Flores, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UC San Francisco

Girls today are more likely to be arrested for violent behavior than in previous decades.  In the United States, more girls are also serving time in secured detention for violent offenses than in years past.  While scholars have explored changes in institutional responses to girls’ violent behavior, few explore how institutions like detention centers actively promote violence among girls.  In this presentation, I provide an ethnographic account of how violence among girls is cultivated in one a juvenile detention center in California.  Drawing on field research conducted over 24 months, I illustrate how correctional officers and other staff encourage, condone, and co-opt violence among girls.  Staff members use fights and girls’ reputations as fighters to achieve the organizational goals of maintaining the safety, security and order in the institution.



Juan Herrera HeadshotRevolution Interrupted: Racial and Spatial Effects of the 1969 Tax Reform Act
Juan Herrera, Department of Chicana/o Studies, UC Los Angeles

This paper analyzes how the 1969 Tax Reform Act changed the political nature of Latino nonprofit mobilizations.  Scholars of nonprofit organizations have argued that the 1969 Tax Reform act curtailed nonprofit political possibilities.  Another set of scholarship portrays this reform as a federal policing of the growing power of private foundations.  Few scholars, however, have analyzed the role of race in deliberations over the congressional reform and its effects.  Drawing from oral histories, interviews with nonprofit leaders, and archival research, this paper argues that the tax reform was a racial act that targeted race-based nonprofit organizations.  I analyze how the 1969 Tax Reform was a regulatory response to both rising anti-racist militancy and the racial diversification of the electorate. Congress saw both of these contentious processes as an imminent apocalyptic racial “revolution” that challenged democratic institutions.  Through the tax reform, the federal government forbade Mexican American and African American nonprofit organizations from engaging in any form of electoral politics—including voter registration projects and official endorsement of candidates.  While the federal government strictly linked “politics” with electoral processes, in practice, the anti-political mandate limited other kinds of political activity, as nonprofit leaders feared that their actions would be deemed prohibited.  I show how despite the non-political clause of the 1969 Tax Reform Act, nonprofit organizations found alternative ways to build political power and wield their authority and expertise.

For more information about Panel 1, please click here. 

Click here for the flyer for this event.


This free, public event is sponsored by the Latin American and Latino Studies Department, with support from the Chicano Latino Research Center.