The Apocalyptic and Spiritual Activism in Queer Chicana Performance

Given the recent onslaught of a global pandemic and spectacular natural disasters, racial unrest and social upheaval, and the emergence of demagoguery evoking the false prophet of the Book of Revelation, it should come as no surprise that public discourse has taken up apocalyptic imagery and that apocalyptic cultural production such as novels and film have never been more popular. However, as Maxine Montgomery (1996) has observed, the apocalyptic functions as a structure of feeling or a perception of the world-ending that is culturally or racially specific. This presentation also considers the gendered and sexualized aspects of the catastrophic through examining the apocalyptic in recent queer Chicana performance, the subject of my book manuscript Chicana Eschatologies: Spiritual Activism and Queer Performance. Grounding my analysis in the representative award-winning 2011 play blu, by Virginia Grise, I argue that through the mobilization of the apocalyptic, these diverse performances stage the often invisibile ways that Chicanas and queer people of color continually occupy and experience states of exception and the necropolitical within extractive global capitalism. Doing so, I submit, enacts an affective politics and spiritual activism that foregrounds not only the differential aspects of the perceived world-ending, but also other sensibilities of radical renewal through healing, spirit work, action and collectivity.

Cathryn Merla-Watson
Associate Professor in the Department of Literatures and Cultural Studies as well as the Co-Director of the Women & Gender Studies Program at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley where she teaches and researches Latinx Speculative Studies