How can cultural texts help us make sense of race and (trans)gender together? What role does fashion play in culture, resistance, and academia? How can we build our classrooms into places where we collectively imagine otherwise?
In episode 32 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast, host Cathy Hannabach chats with guest Francisco Galarte about the racialized politics of style for Chicanx queer and transgender subjects, the classroom as a social justice space, and how trans faculty of color can queer the academy.
Guest: Francisco Galarte
Francisco Galarte is an assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Arizona.
He is a self-identified trans*fronterizo and was born and raised in California’s Imperial Valley, an agricultural community alongside the US/Mexico border.
He is currently working on his first book called Chican@ Trans-figurations: Excesses of Race, Gender and Sexuality in Chican@ Studies, which considers the relationship between Trans* and Chican@ Studies. His writing has appeared in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicana/o Studies, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and Chicana/Latina Studies.
Francisco is the fashion editor for TSQ and also serves on the editorial board. Additionally, Francisco runs El Catrin Con Safos, a personal menswear blog exploring Chicanx queer and transgender masculinities.
He received his BA in political science and Chicano/Latino studies from the University of California, Irvine and his MA and PhD in educational policy studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.
We chatted about
- The relationship between transgender studies and Chicanx studies (2:30)
- Fashion as a site for connections, a method of expression, and a mode of power (10:30)
- How academia can further push studies of style and fashion (24:40)
- Using the classroom can be a social justice space (28:00)
- Imagining otherwise (34:00)
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The intersections in Francisco’s forthcoming book
I want us to reconfigure how we think about trans women of color, specifically…how we only think about them in relation to what happens when they die.
The symbolic nature of clothing
The way we fashion ourselves is not just about adornment. It’s a relationship between the clothes, the adornment, and our embodiment that has something provocative about it.
How personal style choices can disrupt cultural norms
I can feel stares that are not always admiring when I’m walking around campus. That tells me that what I’m wearing does some disruption, that it’s excess and it’s Brown, and that the clothes are beautiful.
Fashion’s nostalgic, subversive power for communities of color
Contemporary Chicana/Latina/Mexican-American youth are having something more than nostalgia when it comes to clothes. It’s a revival of a particular period of history and a politic about fashion that folks are channeling into everyday struggles.
Combining academia, art, and activism in the classroom
A lot of the work that I do happens in the classroom. That involves thinking very strategically about using the resources I have available to me at the university to give my students the opportunity to critically engage with cultural producers and texts that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
For me, imagining otherwise or the world I’m trying to build is one where I have a broad reach with a lot of students, and after they leave the classroom, they’re actively interrogating their place in the world in relation to power dynamics and inequality.
More from Francisco Galarte
- Francisco’s website
- Francisco’s blog El Catrin con Safos
- Francisco’s page at the University of Arizona
- Francisco on Twitter
- Dapper Q style feature on Francisco
- Francisco’s article “Fashioning Pedagogies” in TSQ
- Francisco’s interview with artist L.J. Roberts: “Style Memories and Aesthetics as Resistance”
Projects and people discussed
- Gwen Araujo
- Angie Zapata
- Lou Sullivan
- GLBT Historical Society
- From Female to Male: The Life of Jack Bee Sullivan
- José Esteban Muñoz on Brown affect and excess: “Feeling Brown: Ethnicity and Affect in Ricardo Bracho’s The Sweetest Hangover (and Other STDs)“
- José Esteban Muñoz on queer of color utopias: Queer Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
- Zoot suits
- TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly
- Susan Stryker at the University of Arizona
- Paisley Currah
- Pachucas and Pachucos, style for Mexican-American youth in 1940’s Los Angeles
- Liz Verkland at the University of Arizona
- Photographer Adela C. Licona
- Imagine Otherwise interview with Mimi Nguyen, episode 25
- Imagine Otherwise interview with Min-ha T. Pham, episode 1
- Imagine Otherwise interview with Katie Manthey, episode 16
About Imagine Otherwise
Imagine Otherwise is a podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice, and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining and creating more just worlds. Check out full podcast episodes and show notes at ideasonfire.net/imagine-otherwise-podcast. Imagine Otherwise is hosted by Cathy Hannabach and produced by Ideas on Fire, an academic editing and consulting agency helping progressive, interdisciplinary scholars write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and create more just worlds.
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