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UndocuBlack Nonperformance and Dreaming Otherwise

Date and Time: 
Friday, April 8, 2022. 02:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
El Centro Chicano y Latino Community Room, and Zoom
Workshop: 
Concerning Violence: A Collaborative Research Group
Meeting Description: 

"UndocuBlack Nonperformance and Dreaming Otherwise” considers Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s 2016 memoir, Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from the Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League and its relationship to the narrative aesthetics produced by the 2001 federal DREAM Act. In a 2006 Wall Street Journal article titled, “Illegal at Princeton,” journalist Miriam Jordan highlights a 236-page petition to immigration services that include letters of support, school records, SAT scores, and Padilla Peralta’s acceptance to both Princeton and Oxford. The physical and emotional labor of collecting a 236-page petition requires Padilla Peralta to narrate his entire existence in the law’s terms which forecloses the undocumented subject to attend to their experience in relation to the global system of anti-Blackness and settler colonialism. The storytelling requirements of the DREAM Act illuminate the nonconsensual contract that the DREAM Act forces onto immigrant youth. This paper argues that Padilla Peralta’s Undocumented represents a desire for a different narrative frame to the realities of a Black undocumented (“undocuBlack”) subjectivity in the United States. Padilla Peralta’s authorial desires challenge how narrative and migration scholars understand the role of storytelling in the move not towards citizenship for all, but abolition. Building off Fred Moten’s “Blackness and Nonperformance'' (2015), “UndocuBlack Nonperformance and Dreaming Otherwise” argues that memoir-ing, when employed by undocuBlack cultural producers, can be a methodological act that breaks nonconsensual contracts between nation-states and non-citizen subjects.

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Alan Pelaez Lopez is an AfroIndigenous writer and artist from Oaxaca, México. Their work attends to the quotidian realities of undocumented migrants in the United States, the Black condition in Latin America, and the intimate kinship units that trans and nonbinary people build in the face of violence. Their debut poetry collection, Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien (The Operating System, 2020), was a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in HarperCollins, Teen Vogue, Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan University Press, 2020), Best New Poets 2019 (University of Virginia Press), Poetry Magazine, and others. At UC Berkeley, Pelaez Lopez is finishing a dissertation titled, Fugitive Authorships: Social Contracts and the UndocuBlack Everyday.

RESPONDENTS: Guisela Ramos and Ericson Amaya of 67 Sueños

This event is co-organized with the Arts + Justice workshop.

Our research group is generously supported by the Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages and the Stanford Humanities Center, made possible by support from an anonymous donor, former Fellows, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This event is additionally supported by El Centro Latino y Chicano at Stanford University.

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