Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies
His research centers on the politics and poetics of cultural production. Valentín-Escobar's early research documented the process and cultural significance of musical production within the Puerto Rican and Nuyorican diasporic community. This research highlighted how salsa and Latin jazz are inter-musical, transnational processes that embody popular memory, resistance struggles, and diasporic transracial alliances. His current work focuses on the critical role that community arts centers have in fostering how U.S.-based Latino/a avant-garde artists engage in artistic collective practices for decolonial emancipation through public performances and alternative art spaces.
A Brooklyn New York-native, Valentín-Escobar is currently completing the book Bodega Surrealism: The Emergence of Latin@ Artivists in New York City (New York University Press, forthcoming). The manuscript, which derives from his award-winning dissertation, examines the cultural activism, or "artivism," of two community-based art communities and projects that originated in the 1970s within the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York City: the New Rican Village Cultural Arts Center and El Puerto Rican Embassy. Based on the premise that culture has the potential to create anti-hegemonic, emancipatory social change for a generation of working-class Puerto Rican and Latina/o artists, members of both art centers responded to the social and political alienation they and their accompanying communities experienced. By examining cultural performances, art installations, and arts programming, Valentín-Escobar demonstrates how these artists embarked upon aesthetic, social, spatial, and political interventions.
During the 2011-2012 academic year, Professor Valentín-Escobar was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration at Yale University. The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, the Fred C. Andersen Fellowship at Carleton College, the Rackham Merit Fellowship at the University of Michigan, and the George Washington Henderson Fellowship at the University of Vermont have funded his scholarship. His research and writings have appeared in important scholarly, peer-reviewed anthologies and academic journals.
In May 2012, Valentín received the Best Dissertation Prize from the Latina/o Studies section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).
The field of U.S. Ethnic studies underscores how the Unites States was founded upon intersectional systems of injustice. From its inauguration, Ethnic Studies sought to disrupt the fundamental principles that inform higher education. The purpose of this course is to gain an interdisciplinary and intersectional understanding of the field of Ethnic studies, comprehend some of the historical perspectives that inform it's intellectual formation, and generate a more complicated frame of reference of some ongoing central concepts and processes, like settler colonialism, imperialism, slavery, genocide, racial and sexual classification systems, systemic racism, police brutality, labor importation, gender exploitation and inequality, the prison industrial complex, redlining, and white privilege, among others. We will investigate how Ethnic Studies, as both a field of inquiry and a social movement, is entwined with past and current racial and social justice movements and activism, such as Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipe Line protest, etc.
In moments of political and economic crises, activist-artists -- or artivists -- consistently and creatively respond to the call for social change. They generate art as social action and also realize a new social world into being through art. Drawing from interdisciplinary perspectives, this seminar investigates the "who, what, where, when, why and how" of creative artistic resistance. We will discuss the interrelationships between: art, activism, and the social imagination; the tensions between the "real" and the "imaginary"; public art and community engagement; the role of art in social movements; the function and responsibility of artistic institutions (museums, community art centers, etc.); the relationship between art, gentrification, and creative economies in under-resourced communities; how art can build new or alternative public sphere(s); analyze political art vs. activist art; understand community based art vs. art-based community making; and examine the impact of artistic expressions and movements in transforming collective mentalities or consciousness.
This is part II of the Oral History Theory and Method seminar that started during the Fall 2015 semester. Only students who registered and completed the Fall semester section of the seminar are permitted to enroll in this class. The second part of the research seminar involves analyzing and interpreting the oral history interviews completed during the fall term and interweave this primary source with other primary and secondary sources to construct a historical narrative/analysis. The final product for this course can be a thoroughly researched, analytically written oral history paper; a video or radio documentary complemented by an analytical paper; or a theater play (or other form of creative expression) supplemented by a performance, along with an artist statement. We will conclude the yearlong seminar with a symposium showcasing the work conducted in the class. Oral Historian, Donald Ritchie, reminds us that after conducting and accumulating interviews from particular community members, oral historians have an obligatory priority "to share their findings with the community." We will do the same at the end of the semester by presenting the oral histories before the Hampshire and larger community and invite those we've interviewed to campus and attend and participate in the symposium.
There are close to 54 million Latin@s residing within the United States, accounting for the largest "minority majority" within the United States. This rise in numbers is largely caused by economic, political and other social policies, prompting Latin@s to reside into new regions, cities, and towns that were once hostile to them, accounting for new demographic shifts and thus, Remapping las Americas. In the process, Latin@s have undeniably emerged as a significant political, cultural, economic and social force. Utilizing an interdisciplinary, Critical Ethnic Studies and transnational framework, this course is designed as an introductory foray to studying Latin@ communities in the United States, focusing on their historical, social, political, cultural and economic formations and practices. Some issues and topics to be discussed include: the history of Latin@ Studies, inter-Latin@ and transnational formations, Latin@ identities and their attendant discourses; social and cultural movements; labor policies and (im)migrant labor migration; past and current xenophobic policies and practices against Latin@ communities; and the forms of resistance employed by Latin@s against historical and current-day imperial projects and ethnically/racially intolerant policies.
This two-semester research seminar discusses, theorizes, and illuminates the important and very complex process of oral history (the recording of life experiences) for communities alienated from prevailing historical discourses. Oral history allows one to look at history from multiple angles, to acquire "new ways of seeing," and to delineate new epistemologies. We also examine the dynamics of oral history as truth-telling, and its long-standing relationship with social justice initiatives, and the impact oral histories have upon the communities from which they emerge, and society at large. Some of the questions that guide the course include: Who "makes" history? Why have certain individuals been studied while others ignored? How does this shape the production of knowledge, our understanding of the past and the analysis of experience, and thus challenge what Michel Foucault calls a "regime of truth"? How do particular social factors shape historical knowledge? What is individual memory vs. collective memory? And how do the two come together and diverge? How do we represent and document experiences that differ from our own? In this seminar, you will be expected to conduct extensive background historical research, write multiple drafts of papers, share work with your peers, learn interviewing techniques as authorized by the Oral History Association, transcribe, analyze, and code your interviews, and then contextualize them within itself and within their historical framework. The class will also visit neighboring oral history archives. By the end of the spring term, each student is expected to produce an extensive oral history project. In short, you will learn the step-by-step process of understanding and doing of oral history.