Towards an aesthetic urban ethnography: SIQ as decolonial Latinx theater practice in post-collapse Chicago

Authors: Jasmine Mahmoud*, Washington University in St. Louis
Topics: Urban Geography, United States
Keywords: aesthetics, urban ethnography, race, policy, gentrification, art, theater, performance, Pilsen, Chicago
Session Type: Interactive Short Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Jackson, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper details Southside Ignoramus Quartet (SIQ), an ensemble begun by Mexican-American comedian David Pintor in 2009, and staged in the backyard of his parent’s house in Pilsen, Chicago, the predominately Mexican-American neighborhood threatened by gentrification in the early 21st century. Through an attention to TIF policy developing/displacing the neighborhood in dialogue with SIQ’s performance techniques, I suggest that SIQ reframes narratives of Pilsen away from stories about gentrifiers coming in. Rather SIQ, as a performance practice, reclaims narratives and practices of long-term residents who have lived in the neighborhood, who are in threat of displacement, and in doing so uses theater to resist gentrification and reclaim and reframe the neighborhood. This paper attends to my project’s methods, including aesthetic performance documentation, urban ethnography, and policy analysis as a means to articulate interdisciplinary urban cultural studies methodology attentive to aesthetics, race, and space.

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