113th Annual Conference - Portland, Oregon
Friday, November 6 - Sunday, November 8, 2015

Beyond ‘Recognition’: Toward a Politics of Resistance and Reclamation of Historical Memory in the UndocuQueer Movement

Ximena Keogh, University of Colorado, Boulder

This paper will examine the forms of coalitional activism employed by the Undocuqueer Movement. Through an analysis of their textual and visual forms of self-mapping onto the public imaginary, I seek to show how their activism proposes alternative modes of belonging and historical inclusion, as speared by third world feminism theories and methodologies. 


With the 2010 formation of the UndocuQueer movement in the United States, a previously veiled constellation of intersectional identities has begun to gain visibility in the public sphere. Through visual and video representations of self, hundreds of self-identified “queer” and “undocumented” youth have begun to proclaim their identity and have begun to confront and contest hegemonic discourses that continually exclude and/or negate their being.

Following these practices of social visibility and activism, my presentation seeks to examine the discourse employed by the UndocuQueer activists, and see the ways in which it works to re-inscribe their silenced histories, so as to advocate for historical memory. By illuminating histories of injury and marginalization, I hope to show how these activists make visible the colonial past that informs their present.

A passage through their art will additionally show the way in which these individuals assume agency and power through self-expression, or rather self-insertion into the public imaginary. Their art thus serves as a politically driven and tactically imagined space of inclusion.

In addition, I seek to analyze the ways in which the spaces whereupon these individuals speak and imprint their identities, operate as an alternative form of citizen formation, one which moves away from occidental practices (under its patriarchal and heteronormative shadows), and opts instead for a queer model of political citizenship.