Iván A. Ramos is assistant professor in the Department of Theater Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. He was previously an assistant professor in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He received his PhD in Performance Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from UC Berkeley and his BA in Critical Gender Studies from UC San Diego. Iván is originally from Tijuana, Mexico.
Iván’s broader research investigates the links and slippages between transnational Latino/a American aesthetics in relationship to the everydayness of contemporary and historical violence. In particular, he is interested in how the aesthetic may provide a way to engage with an ethics of difference. His work brings together performance studies, queer and feminist theory, Latina/o/x American Studies, and media and film studies. His first book, Unbelonging: Dissonant Sounds in Mexican and Latinx Aesthetics was recently published with NYU Press in the Postmillenial Pop series. The book examines how “dissonant sound” brought together artists and alternative subcultures on both sides of the border in the wake of NAFTA to articulate a politics of negation against larger cultural and economic changes. He is also currently at work on a second book project, tentatively titled Mourning Without Bodies, which argues that experimental aesthetics provide a way to grapple with ongoing violence in the Americas without relying on biographical narratives that limit collective mourning to certain “proper” subjects. He has published on subjects ranging from the Chicana artist Xandra Ibarra, the work of the late scholar José Esteban Muñoz, and the aesthetics of the tv show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, among other subjects.
His work has been supported by fellowships from the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the National Humanities Center and the Ford Foundation. In addition, professor Ramos was awarded a 2023 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award from the Institute for Citizens and Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson Foundation).
His writing has appeared in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latina/o Literature, Third Text, Women & Performance, ASAP/Journal, among others. He was also a contributor to the award winning catalog for the exhibition Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. sponsored by the Getty Foundation. He has recently published peer-reviewed articles in the anthologies Turning Archival (fDuke University Press) and Great North American Stage Directors, Volume 8 (fBloomsbury Academic). He currently sits on the editorial board for the journal Afterimage.
|"Aimless Lives: Amateur Aesthetics, Mexican Contemporary Art, and Sarah Minter’s Alma Punk." Third Text, vol. 34, no. 1, 2020, pp. 190-205.|
"Book Review of Ricanness: Enduring Time in Anticolonial Performance by Sandra Ruiz." Latino Studies Journal, no. 18, 2020, pp. 478-481.
|"Book Review of After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life by Joshua Chambers-Letson." TDR: The Drama Review, vol. 63, no. 4, 2019, pp. 19-198.|
|"José Esteban Muñoz." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latina/o Literature, edited by Arturo Arias, Raúl Coronado, Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel, Ben V. Olguín, and Sandra K. Soto, Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press, 2018.|
|"Slow Encounters: Chantal Akerman’s From the Other Side, Queer Form, and the Mexican Migran." ASAP: Journal for the Association for the Arts of the Present, vol. 2, no. 2, 2017, pp. 423-448.|
"Camp Mystics: Psychedelic and Spiritual Play in the Queer Chicana/o Archive”." Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. , edited by C. Ondine Chavoya, David Evans Frantz, and Macarena Gómez-Barris, London, DelMonico Books, 2017, pp. 78-93.
|"Spic(y) Appropriations: The Gustatory Aesthetics of Xandra Ibarra (aka La Chica Boom)." ARARA: Art and Architecture of the Americas, no. 12, 2016, pp. 1-18.|
|"The Viscosity of Grief: Teresa Margolles at the Scene of the Crime." Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, vol. 25, no. 3, 2016, pp. 298-314.|
My first book project argues for the importance of the sonic as a lens to understand the relationship between sound, media, and contemporary art practices on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. Sonic Negations: Unbelonging Subjects, Inauthentic Objects, and Sound Between Mexico and the United States explores how Mexican and U.S. based Latinx artists, writers, and publics utilized dissonant sonic forms— noise, metal, punk, and New Wave British music to experimental performance and installation art—as embodied modes of political dissent in the aftermath of NAFTA. I illustrate how sound was an important avenue through which citizens were made legible to the state throughout the 20th century. While the state was invested in the cultivation of a sonic nationalism for Mexican and Latinx subjects, culturally discordant genres provoked political repression and cultural panic. Queer and feminist artists, musicians, and minoritarian publics drew from this history and deployed sonic illegibility to refuse the demands of the state. I examine how vernacular practices of media-making, particularly the bootleg, created underground networks of circulation among rock, punk, and metal subcultures that were then taken up in the realm of contemporary art and performance. The book’s chapters include the use of sound in body-based feminist performance art in Mexico City and its challenge to gender norms; the recurring figure of the Chicana lesbian punk across Chicana/o cultural production and her contestation of the family; and the queer undertones of the transnational Latinx fan base that has developed around the British rock star Morrissey. Each case study addresses how bootleg and underground media function formally and thematically. Sonic Negations is, on the one hand, a history of bootleg media and the emergence of minoritarian sonic subcultures between Mexico and the United States. At the same time, the project intervenes in current debates within critical ethnic studies and queer studies by revealing how subjects marked by sexual and gender difference imagine alternative forms of survival, what I identify as “unbelonging” and “inauthenticity,” outside of the constraints of citizenship. The book is currently under contract with NYU Press, where it will be included in the Postmillenial Pop series. This project has been supported by a Ford Foundation Fellowship as well as a Summer writing fellowship at the National Humanities Center.
I have also begun research for a second book-length project, Death Without Mourning: Queer and Feminist Aesthetics and the Specter of Latinidad. This study analyzes experimental media by an assortment of queer and feminist transnational Latinx artists that grapple with ongoing gendered and sexualized violence in the Americas. I specifically analyze how they repurpose figurations of death represented across traditional media forms. My case studies venture beyond sensational representations of violence in Latina/o America by considering less frequently studied cultural sites, including the “crime scene aesthetics” of installation artists Teresa Margolles and Pepón Osorio; the documentary aesthetics of Chantal Akerman and Laura Huertas Millán; and aesthetic practices of representing death in alternative media. I have published two essays from this project: in a special issue on “Lingering in Latinidad” in Women and Performance and a special issue on “Queer Form” in ASAP/Journal.
My research and teaching use performance as a broad category to examine a range of cultural forms—including performance and theater, contemporary art, film, literature, and new media—to consider how questions of gender, sexuality, race, and the political have shaped the development of transnational queer Latinx and Mexican aesthetic practices. Interdisciplinary be design, my work speaks to a variety of fields by considering and bringing together the thematic, methodological, and historical intersections of these disciplines. My research sheds new light on the ways in which communities defined by social difference, such as race, gender, sexuality, and others, use the tools offered by contemporary art practice in order to contest dominant political, economic, and social regimes.
My first book project, Sonic Negations: Unbelonging Subjects, Inauthentic Objects, and Sound in Mexican and Latina/o Contemporary Art argues that racial belonging in the United States and Mexico has historically required legible forms of performance to prove one’s allegiance to one’s own ethnic group, alongside the U.S. nation-state. In particular, sound has been a primary vehicle that amplifies and can be used to assign cultural citizenship. For Latinxs, legibility comes through music perceived as traditional and authentic from their national origins. Many scholars have substantially queried this relationship between belonging and national music. This book, however, turns to dissonant sounds by Mexican and U.S.-based Latina/o/x artists, writers, and publics—ranging from noise, metal, punk, and New Wave British music to experimental performance and installation. Sonic Negations takes these unexpected sounds to examine how Mexican and Latinx subjects embodied aesthetic modes of political dissent in the aftermath of neoliberalism’s attempt to define citizenship in relation the population’s capacity to participate in the well-being of the market. Combining methods from sound and performance studies, feminist theory, and queer studies, Sonic Negations listens to the way transnational Latinx “auditory cultures” engaged negative affects (such as melancholia, despair, idleness, and aggression) that became otherwise foreclosed by dominant national and ethnic structures of neoliberal belonging. I contend that throughout the Twentieth century, sonic forms were at the heart of what made citizens legible to the nation: sounds that were congruous with Mexican and Latinx subjects were embraced, while culturally discordant genres provoked panics of national and ethnic betrayal. This interplay between belonging and sound became amplified as the meaning of citizenship in both the US and Mexico came to be increasingly defined through economic potential as both countries instituted new neoliberal policies in the 1990s.
Queer and feminist artists, musicians, and publics drew from this history and deployed sonic illegibility to refuse the demands of the state. My case studies include the rise of sound art as an aesthetic category in Mexican contemporary art; the use of sound in body-based feminist performance art in Mexico City and its challenge to gender norms; the recurring figure of the Chicana lesbian punk across Chicanx cultural production and her contestation of the family; and the queer undertones of the transnational Latinx fan base that has developed around the British rock star Morrissey. Sonic Negations intervenes in current debates in performance studies, Latinx studies, and feminist and queer theory by revealing how subjects marked by sexual and gender difference imagine alternative forms of belonging, specifically what the book identifies as “unbelonging” and “inauthenticity,” outside of the construct of citizenship. The book suggests that by looking at these understudied sites, we may gain new understandings of the ways in which neoliberalism and other contemporary political and economic developments were engaged by and even resisted by the cultural realm.
I have also begun research for a second book-length project, Death Without Mourning: Queer and Feminist Aesthetics and the Specter of Latinidad. This study analyzes experimental works by an assortment of queer and feminist transnational Latinx artists that grapple with ongoing gendered and sexualized violence in the Americas. I specifically analyze how they repurpose figurations of death. My case studies venture beyond familiar representations of violence across the hemisphere by considering less frequently studied cultural sites, including the “crime scene aesthetics” of installation artists Teresa Margolles and Pepón Osorio; the abject feminist performances of Cristina Ochoa and Xandra Ibarra; and adaptations and appropriations of Sophocles’ Antigone in the Americas. This project emerges from the urgency of grasping how the aesthetic has provided an essential site of contestation for subjects who have been among the most affected by contemporary regimes of violence. I have published two essays from this project: “The Viscosity of Grief: Teresa Margolles at the Scene of the Crime” in a special issue on “Lingering in Latinidad” in Women and Performance, and “Slow Encounters: Chantal Akerman’s From the Other Side, Queer Form, and the Mexican Migrant” in ASAP/Journal, the journal for the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. The special issue that this essay was included in was instrumental in attaining the recognition of best new journal in any field from the Council for Editors of Learned Journals.
I maintain a robust research and publishing agenda that stretches beyond my book projects in order to develop and maintain conversations with a variety of audiences in and beyond the academy. In 2018 I published “José Esteban Muñoz,” a peer reviewed entry on the late queer theorist for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latina/o Literature. I also published a peer reviewed journal article, “Marginal Lives: Video Aesthetics, Mexican Contemporary Art, and Sarah Minter’s Alma Punk” for the highly regarded contemporary art journal Third Text. The article examines how the Mexican artist Sarah Minter’s docu- fictional full length video Alma Punk indexes an otherwise forgotten punk subculture in Mexico City. I also currently have several articles at various stages of completion. I have submitted a solicited essay, “Pirates and Punks: Bootlegs, Archives, and Performance in Mexico City,” on the ways in which transnational research requires scholars to find alternative ways of imagining the archive for inclusion in the peer-reviewed anthology Turning Archival, under contract with Duke University Press. I have completed a draft of an essay on the work of the Chicana performance artist Xandra Ibarra titled “Unruly Laughter: On Xandra Ibarra’s Nude Laughing,” which is the second of what will be a series of interconnected scholarly essays on the work of this important Chicana artist. I am also currently awaiting publication of a solicited essay on the work of the influential Mexican feminist artist Jesusa Rodríguez for the peer reviewed volume Great North American Stage Directors, Volume 8 for Bloomsbury Academic. These projects reflect my commitment to devote part of my research agenda to highlighting and bringing attention to the work of minoritarian scholars, artists and communities.
I have also welcomed the opportunity to develop my research by engaging opportunities to work with scholars across institutional contexts. In Fall of 2016 I was in residence at the University of California Humanities Research Institute at UC Irvine as a member of the residential working group “Queer Hemispheres.” This ongoing research group is dedicated to investigating the circulation and reception of queer theory throughout the Americas. Over the long term this collaboration will result in expanding these conversations across an edited collection, collaborations with institutions and scholars situated in Latin America, as well as an online compendium of key bibliographical resources. In addition, I was part of a select group of scholars who contributed research and writing to the exhibit and catalog for Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. My contribution resulted in a portion of the exhibit dedicated to my findings as well as the catalog essay “Camp Mystics: Psychedelic and Spiritual Play in the Queer Chicana/o Archive.” The exhibit has been a great success, and in addition to its opening exhibition in Los Angeles, Axis Mundo has now traveled to major art galleries in New York, Denver, and Houston, in addition to being expected to travel internationally in the near future. The catalog has also been well received, obtaining the American Association of Art Museum Curators’ award for Excellence for an Outstanding Printed Publication, for which its “groundbreaking new scholarship” was cited. It has also received the award for best LGBTQ themed book from the International Latino Book awards as well as other awards from the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Latin American Art, and Book Industry Guild of New York.
What ultimately unites these multiple strands of my research and publications is a dedication to shedding light on the ways in which cultural artifacts, from performance, literature, and film to online personal ads, and other ephemera have the potential to reveal and challenge how power operates to produce forms of difference and inequality.
|2015||PhD||University of California – Berkeley, CA|
|2008||BA||Univeristy of California, San Diego|
Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2020-2021
Fellowship. Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research. Harvard University. Summer 2019
National Humanities Center Summer Residency, Summer 2018
Fellowship, “Queer Hemispheres.” University of California Humanities Research Institute, Residential Working Group, UC Irvine, Fall 2016
University of California Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2014-15
Theater Arts and Performance Studies
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Brown Film Hub
My research and pedagogy are deeply informed by my experiences as an immigrant and first generation college student. As a result, my teaching philosophy draws from the skills I have developed over the years to help students encounter difficulty in their studies. I approach my courses as a place for students to experiment, to ask questions, and to feel safe as they engage issues of race, gender, and sexuality in relationship to culture, literature, and aesthetics. My lectures, course materials, class discussions, and assignments integrate a variety of learning styles and experiences, always foregrounding the task of learning as an ethical engagement with the world. As an instructor, I remember the kind of excitement that would sprout whenever I encountered a new idea that allowed me to interpret the world in new ways, and I am committed to instilling the same sense of discovery throughout my activities in and outside of the classroom.
My experience as a first generation college (and graduate) student have instilled in me a rigorous sense of belief in sharing with students the kinds of critical reading, writing, and research skills that were essential to my success as I navigated the world of the academy. My courses use culture as a methodology to explicate the historical complexities and intersections of social difference. As this is the first time many of the students encounter these concepts critically, I formulate syllabi that incorporate diverse archives, histories, experiences, and learning methodologies. Students began class sessions by presenting questions about the material, and over the course of the semester, they gained the trust to begin from the space of not knowing, making them feel more secure among their peers. As part of my approach as an instructor, I would often acknowledge that the material was indeed difficult, and that to engage it we must begin from the humility of feeling defeated by a text. This made students feel more comfortable with the material, and as the weeks progressed, they became more confident in their engagement and their own abilities. I also regularly met individually with students, making sure that they understood their progress and encouraging them to have patience with their own learning trajectory. My student evaluations have consistently pointed out my approachability as an instructor and my ability to demystify difficult material. From these experiences I have learned that in order to create a diverse classroom, one must strive to make all students feel included, and that a major part of that process is the excitement of facing the unknown together.
At the graduate level, my teaching and mentoring focus on demystifying the graduate school experience as well as the challenges of the academy that may often appear overwhelming, especially for students from marginalized populations who may be the first in their families to obtain a graduate degree. At Maryland, I have led job market and dissertation writing workshops devised to instill skills and strategies that will make students successful. I train graduate students to develop not only their intellectual trajectory but also to understand that their writing will extend beyond their research to a variety of genres, from the job letter to the funding application. I have found that mentoring graduate students to recognize these skills helps them see each of these genres as formats to master rather than as obstacles to their success. Seeing students successfully develop and adapt the skills I try to instill in them has encouraged me to continue my foray into university teaching, turning to the classroom and mentoring as sites full of potential for engaging crucial social issues and political change.
|TAPS 0970A - Queer and Feminist Performance in Latin(x) America|
|TAPS 1230 - Global Theatre and Performance: Paleolithic to the Threshold of Modernity|
|TAPS 1250 - Late Modern and Contemporary Theatre and Performance|
|TAPS 1670 - Latinx Theatre + Performance|
|TAPS 2100 - Seminar in Performance Studies and Theatrical Theory|
|TAPS 2200V - Queer Aesthetics in Performance and Media|