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Borders and Movement Series Part One: Blanketed Thieves: The Historical Roots of Racist Depictions of the Mexican Body in the Borderlands

April 7, 2019 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Borders and Movement, a two-part community discussion led by the University of Louisville Cultural Center’s Hispanic and Latino Initiatives and La Casita Center

Part 1: Blanketed Thieves: The Historical Roots of Racist Depictions of the Mexican Body in the Borderlands. Presented by Dr. Katherine Massoth.

Grand Hall, FREE with admission as part of Sunday Showcase.

Join us for an in-depth discussion about the stereotypes associated with immigrants, focusing specifically on the Mexican body. Dr. Katherine Massoth will deliver a lecture on nineteenth-century stereotypes of Mexican bodies in order to contextualize how contemporary depictions of Mexicans as dangerous immigrants is not new. Dr. Massoth will focus on nineteenth-century representations of Mexican men and women’s bodies as “blanketed thieves and hooded whores.” She will also discuss the role of clothing as creating a form of “border” between Mexico and the United States.

Dr. Massoth’s talk will be followed by a discussion led by Sarah C. Nuñez, Assistant Director of the Cultural Center at the University of Louisville and Karina Barillas, Director of La Casita Center, incorporating community members. This discussion will focus on the importance of positive representations of immigrants and how this can affect public policy.

This event is presented in conjunction with the Speed exhibition Yinka Shonibare CBE: The American Library. This exhibition is co-presented with 21c Museum Hotel.

The Borders and Movement series was organized in partnership with La Casita Center, and the University of Louisville’s Cultural Center, the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society, and the Department for Latin American and Latino Studies.


About Dr. Katherine Massoth:
Katherine Sarah Massoth is an Assistant Professor of History and Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society Faculty Fellow at the University of Louisville. Prior coming to Louisville, she received her Ph.D. and M.A. in History from the University of Iowa and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Social Science-Secondary Education from the University of California at Irvine. Her research focuses on the history of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, specifically gender roles, domesticity, transborder trade systems, foodways, and cultural networks. She is currently revising her book manuscript, “Her Many Duties: The Borders of Gender Roles, Cultural Practices, and Domesticity in Arizona and New Mexico, 1846-1941.”

About Sarah C. Nuñez:
Sarah Nuñez is a 1.5 generation immigrant born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in North Carolina. She’s a cultural worker and healer, weaving storytelling, art, practice, and movement building throughout her work, research,organizing and activism. She has lived in Louisville for 4 years and works at the University of Louisville as Assistant Director of Cultural Center and a Lecturer with the University Honors College. She is also the Core Team Leader with Louisville Latino Education Outreach Project, Co-Director or Louisville Latinx Oral History Project and an organizer with Mijente. Sarah holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Western Carolina University as well as Bachelors in Art in Interdisciplinary Studies from UNC-Asheville.  She is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Counseling & Personnel Services (College Student Personnel) at the University of Louisville.

About Karina Barillas:
Karina Barillas is a native from Guatemala. Through a Fulbright scholarship in 1996, Karina earned her BA, with a minor in English, Psychology and Education, at the University of Louisville. She received her Masters in Education with a concentration in Counseling Psychology from the University of Louisville in 2002. Karina worked for eight years advocating, accompanying and supporting Latina victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault at the Center for Women and Families. She is one of the co-founders and currently works as the Executive Director for La Casita Center, a Community of Latinx Hospitality, unique in the state of Kentucky that enhances the well-being of Louisville’s Latino community through education, empowerment, advocacy, and wellness. In April 2017 Barillas was awarded the University of Louisville Community Spirit Award by the College of Arts and Sciences. The Spanish Newspaper, Al Dia en America, awarded Karina as one of the three 2017 Most Outstanding Latin@s in Louisville. Most recently, in April 2018, the Community Foundation of Louisville named Karina one of the 13 “Forces of Good” in our community, honoring her work by featuring her work with a billboard.

About the Cultural Center at the University of Louisville:
The University of Louisville Cultural Center’s Hispanic and Latino Initiatives works to promote Latino student success through campus and community engagement, student coaching, leadership development, and cultural programming and events.

About La Casita Center:
La Casita Center enhances the well-being of Louisville’s Latinx community through education, empowerment, advocacy, and wellness. La Casita Center works intentionally to build a thriving community based on mutual support and respect.

About Latin American and Latino Studies:
Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Louisville is an interdisciplinary program that promotes an understanding and appreciation for the diverse cultures of Latin America and Latino communities in the United States, with the ultimate objective of preparing students to become engaged citizens in our global society.

About the Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society:
Established at the University of Louisville in academic year 1997, CCHS is charged with enhancing humanistic scholarship, research, creative activity, teaching, and public awareness at the University of Louisville, in the Louisville metropolitan area and, in collaboration with other universities, colleges, and humanities organizations, throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. To this end, the Center offers a variety of programs, some focused internally on faculty research, but many designed to appeal to the public and to help make the University a cultural center for the city and the Commonwealth.


Yinka Shonibare CBE
British-Nigerian, born 1962
The American Library, 2018
Hardback books, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, gold foiled names, headphones, interactive application
Installation view at The Cleveland Public Library. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. July 14-September 30, 2018.
© Yinka Shonibare MBE. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art with funds from VIA Art Fund, Cleveland Public Library and The City of Cleveland’s Cable Television Minority Arts and Education Fund. Photography by Field Studio.


April 7, 2019
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Event Category: