Performing Queer Latinidad

Dance, Sexuality, Politics
Ramón H. Rivera-Servera
The place of performance in unifying an urban LGBT population of diverse Latin American descent


  • Winner, Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Studies, 2013
    Winner, Latino Studies Section of Latin American Studies Association Award for Best Book 2013

    Winner, Congress of Research in Dance (CORD) Outstanding Publication Award, 2013

Performing Queer Latinidad highlights the critical role that performance played in the development of Latina/o queer public culture in the United States during the 1990s and early 2000s, a period when the size and influence of the Latina/o population was increasing alongside a growing scrutiny of the public spaces where latinidad could circulate.  Performances—from concert dance and street protest to the choreographic strategies deployed by dancers at nightclubs—served as critical meeting points and practices through which LGBT and other nonnormative sex practitioners of Latin American descent (individuals with greatly differing cultures, histories of migration or annexation to the United States, and contemporary living conditions) encountered each other and forged social, cultural, and political bonds. At a time when latinidad ascended to the national public sphere in mainstream commercial and political venues and Latina/o public space was increasingly threatened by the redevelopment of urban centers and a revived anti-immigrant campaign, queer Latinas/os in places such as the Bronx, San Antonio, Austin, Phoenix, and Rochester, NY, returned to performance to claim spaces and ways of being that allowed their queerness and latinidad to coexist. These social events of performance and their attendant aesthetic communication strategies served as critical sites and tactics for creating and sustaining queer latinidad.

"Creatively and rigorously investigates the copresence of queerness, class, gender, ethnicity, country of origin, and history in bracing, highly nuanced examinations of the micropractices of queer Latina/-o performance. The analyses powerfully and compellingly demonstrate the essential roles performance plays in the construction and potency of a diverse, generative public sphere: as a way to forge solidarities, explore liberatory possibilities, and choreograph resistance . . . a significant contribution to dance, performance, and theatre studies, to critical ethnography, and to transnational American and queer studies."
—Judith Hamera, Texas A&M University

"Centerstaging an intersectionality not explored until now, Performing Queer Latinidad inaugurates a paradigm shift in Latina/o, Queer, and Dance Studies . . . In capturing historically situated bodies that fleetingly occupy the dance floor in pleasure, take over the streets in protest, and perform identity in their fierce queer cultural acts of survival and celebration, the author allows us to reconsider how to critically map everyday material practices, lived embodied experience, and affective expressions of convivencia diaria. It is a magisterial piece of work. Ahora Sí Bailamos!"
—Alberto Sandoval-Sánchez, Mount Holyoke College

Cover: Angel Rodriguez-Diaz, Antifanz: Forget the Alamo . . . Yellow Rose, July, 2004. Courtesy of the artist.

Ramón H. Rivera-Servera is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Performance Studies, Northwestern University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Performing Queer Latinidad is an excellent and important book, whose theoretical interventions are lucid, poetic, and accessible, making it appropriate for advanced scholars and undergraduate students alike."
  • "Performing Queer Latinidad pays careful attention to the socio-eco-political conditions at the center of each site of performance, and thoughtfully identifies the effects of these often-complicated factors on Latinas/os living together in these spaces. A significant contribution to Latina/o studies, queer studies, and performance studies, this book clearly and effectively evinces performances that bring together queer and straight Latinas/os in public spaces to engage in 'choreographies of resistance' for homemaking purposes."
    Theatre Journal
  • "Rivera-Servera’s narratives are not only affective, recreating for as well as sharing with and invoking in the reader the sensuality of the experiences, but also generating with the reader their own experiences of the now that happens in relation to the text."
    --Text and Performance Quarterly
  • Winner, Latino Studies Section of Latin American Studies Association Award for Best Book 2013
  • Winner, Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Studies, 2013
  • Special Citation: The Society of Dance History Scholars de la Torre Bueno Prize, 2012
  • Winner, Congress of Research in Dance (CORD) Outstanding Publication Award, 2013
  • Honorable Mention, Best Book, Association for Latina and Latino Anthropologists, 2014

Look Inside

News, Reviews, Interviews

Interview on the Orlando Shooting: "The Singular Experience of the Queer Latin Nightclub" | The Atlantic | 6/17/2016

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 272pp.
  • 19 B&W illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07139-5

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  • $80.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05139-7

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  • $33.95 U.S.

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  • Performance studies, queer performance, Latino performance, queer latinidad, queer Latinos, sexuality, Latino dance, Latino politics, ethnography, popular music