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6.5: Jotería Aesthetics and Cultural Production

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    Jotería Creative Expressions

    Jotería cultural production (visual art, literature, film, social media) have been an integral part of the development of jotería studies. Artists and cultural producers have used visual and literary language to subvert norms and resist homophobic, transphobic, and gender exclusionary narratives and iconography.47 According to William Calvo-Quiros, jotería cultural texts use a certain aesthetic that creates “new spaces and ruptures” and is about imagining a world where we are not dehumanized and fully embrace difference.48 These aesthetics, rooted in the Chicano artistic sensibility called rasquachismo, are composed of elements that represent jotería consciousness in a visual, sonic, and gestural manner. Calvo-Quiros mentions examples like drag shows, quinceañeras, altars, and more.

    Jotería cultural texts or cultural production have created space to create the worlds Calvo-Quiros talks about. For example, Rita Urquijo-Ruiz, in her essay in the Jotería Studies Dossier, mentions how when she went to see a play, “Men on the Verge of a His-panic Breakdown,” by Guillermo Reyes at UC Riverside when she was an undergraduate student while she was still in process of coming out as a lesbian. She laughed at all the queer jokes. pretending she didn't know what her friends were talking about. Later they had a conversation and she was able to finally feel at home. This is an example of how a jotería cultural text, a play, could open the space to feel seen and also create the space of vulnerability to open up to your friends. 

    Other plays include Cherrie Moraga’s Giving Up the Ghost, Luis Alfaro’s one man show, Monica Palacios, I Kissed Frida, the theater works of VIVA. Ellie Hernandez has written about how films like La Mission (2009), starring Peruvian-American actor Benjamin Bratt, and Mosquita y Mari (2013) directed by queer Chicana Aurora Guerrero, are examples of this.49 Most recently shows like Vida on FX, “Gentefied” on Netflix, and Los Spooky's on HBO are examples of jotería frameworks and or aesthetics guiding television projects. Performance artists Adelina Anthonly, the collective Tragic Bitches, the Maricolectiva are all performers or groups that deploy what Calvo calls a jotería aesthetic through their performances.

    Jotería Sound Studies

    Another area where jotería studies is in conversation is with sound studies. Sound studies is a field that, according to Joseph Salem, studies the role of sound in culture. Through this lens we aim to understand and analyze what sound can tell us about history, the environment, politics, urban space, more. Scholars of color and jotería studies focus on how sound, gender, race, and sexuality work together. For example, Casillas looks at radio and immigrants, Alexa Vasquez looks at Cuban music, Jennifer Lynn Stoever looks at the sonic color line. Deb Varags looks at the sounds of Texana music, Wanda Alarcon at how literature can be sonic, and how Chicana literature is filled with sonic. Eddy Francisco Alvarez Jr. builds on these authors and the work of jotería studies scholars mentioned here to develop a concept called jotería listening which is about how jotería listen collectively and what meaning they make of music, sounds, memories.50 What are jotería sounds? For more on sound studies visit “Thinking Sounds,” which provides an introduction to sound studies.

    Future Directions

    Growth and change are important and inevitable in any academic field as they are in life. As we have discussed here, jotería studies, although a relatively young field, stands on the legacy of ancestors who have shaped our thinking and fought hard for our voices to be heard. The future of jotería studies is already being shaped by folks who are expanding the conversation to include more conversations around self care, pleasure, hidden archives, and transnational perspectives. More and more jotería studies is making its way into the curriculum in college classrooms. Francisco Galarte words about trans in joteria studies remain an ongoing challenge. As more trans and non-binary voices contribute to the field and cisgender folks pay attention, as we listen, the emancipatory possibilities of the work of joteria studies becomes even more possible, and ensures no one is left behind as in past movements.  This book you are reading is evidence of the future of jotería studies in relationship, and because of, Chicanx and Latinx studies and social movement activism, and art.


    47 Daniel Enrique Pérez, Rethinking Chicana/o and Latina/o Popular Culture, (London: Pallgrave Macmillan, 2009)

    48 William Calvo-Quiros, “The Aesthetics of Healing and Love: An Epistemic Genealogy of Jota/o Aesthetic Traditions,” Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies 39, no.1 (Spring 2014), 183-184.

    49 Ellie D. Hernandez, “Cultura Joteria: The Ins and Outs of Latina/o Popular Culture” in The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Popular Culture, ed. Frederick Luis Aldama (London: Routledge, 2016),  298-299.

    50 Eddy Francisco Alvarez Jr., Embodied Collective Choreographies: Listening to Arena Nightclub’s Jotería Sonic Memories,” Sound Acts Part 2, Receiving and Reflecting Vibration, Performance Matters 8, no. 1 (2022): 109-124.

    This page titled 6.5: Jotería Aesthetics and Cultural Production is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Eddy Francisco Alvarez Jr. (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) .