Raising Ethnic Voices
Raising Ethnic Voices: Counter-Discourses in the Contemporary Cultural Scenes of New York City and Los Angeles.
Despite the postulation of a post-ethnic American society, ethnicity continues to be a defining factor for the inhabitants of the postindustrial city. Indeed, it remains a signifier of difference and otherness in the socially produced space of the urban realm. In this space, hegemonic, colonial, and capitalist scripts structure the lives of minorities and majorities alike – though often with diametrical consequences – supporting the aim of creating cultural and social homeostasis as well as fostering established institutions. For marginalized groups, these narratives regularly result in displacement, discrimination, and exclusion from space as well as social and political participation. These particular scripting processes are usually naturalized, veiling their normative function. The project examines counter-narratives LatinX artists and activists craft in the two paradigmatic American metropolises, New York City and Los Angeles: Their narratives intent to uncover colonial and hegemonial scripts and simultaneously re-write the groups' position within their cities and societies. The creative expression of these artists, thus, functions as more than just an aesthetic form, they present a way to resist and contest dominant cultural norms and, as I argue, an actualization of the potential specific to creative counter-scripts – a claim to the group’s much-discussed right to the city. In literature, murals, music and other arts the highly diverse ethnic ‘group’ of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. develops approaches that lie on various points of a spectrum between protest and inter-ethnical cooperation, which can be analyzed profitably from a transnational perspective of German American Studies.