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).
2017 marks 100 years of US colonialism in Puerto Rico. As one of the remaining colonies that has both attracted national attention but been relegated to the periphery, the purpose of this course is to foreground this important history and explore how this colonial relationship emerged. We begin with the antecedent colonial conquest with Spain, and analyze Puerto Rico's unique position in the Atlantic world. Drawing from a wide array of disciplinary perspectives, including sociology, history, political science, cultural studies and literature, this seminar analyzes Puerto Rico and its Diaspora in a "post-colonial" context. Starting from the Spanish conquest through the U.S. invasion, and the mass migration of Puerto Ricans after World War II into the U.S., we examine how the scattered Puerto Rican nation developed in relation to European and U.S. expansion. We begin with the emergence of the transoceanic movement of peoples and commodities to examine how ordinary Puerto Ricans became involved in the global economy and how their social and historical experiences overlapped with other racialized/colonized communities during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The purpose of this course is to gain an interdisciplinary understanding of the field of U.S. Ethnic studies, understand some of the historical perspectives that inform it's intellectual formation, and gain an appreciation of some ongoing central concepts and processes, such as settler colonialism, imperialism, slavery, genocide, technologies of empire, racial classification systems, labor importation, gender exploitation, and white privilege, among others. We will also investigate past and recent movements and organizations that sought challenge state authority and local and federal laws, such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords Party, Black Lives Matter, and the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest, among others.
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.