Music, stars and racialised bodies

Today, I am going to Maynooth to give a paper called “Who Made You the Centre of the Universe? Stardom and Racialized Bodies on the Borderland” to a group of Masters’ students and staff at the Hispanic studies department. The title is inspired by a line from a Laura Mvula song, “That’s Alright”. In this song, she says: I’ll never be what you want/and that’s alright,/cos my skin aint light and my body aint tight”. This is very pertinent to my discussion which compares the star performances of Minnie Driver in The Virgin of Juarez and Jennifer Lopez in Bordertown. Both were released in 2006, are set in Juarez, Northern Mexico and have feminicide/femicide as central elements in their respective plots. Mvula is explicitly drawing attention to the racialised discourse around bodies, where white bodies are contained and having “a sense of separation and boundedness” (Dyer, 152) and black and brown (read Latina, here) bodies bear a thrilling, exotic excess. Mvula is owning her curves, the indicators of this lack of boundedness. This is a project I’ll be writing more about over the next few months.

In addition to Mvula’s song, I have also come across other apposite songs which resonate with this project. They are by Mexican female rappers responding to the drug-related violence in Mexico. These are, “Puta guerra” [Fucking War] by Zapatillas de la calle and “Ninguna guerra en mi nombre” [No war in My Name] by Batallones Femeninos. Some information in Spanish about the Batallones Femeninos and the lyrics for this song can be found here. These songs are powerful responses to the recent violence and act as valuable counterpoint to the narcocorridos which are often celebratory of violence.

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