Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

Christen Smith


Assistant ProfessorPh.D., Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, and Center for African and African American Studies
Christen Smith

Contact

Interests


Blackness, performance, racial formation, violence, Black women and transnational struggle, Black liberation and resistance in the Americas (particularly Brazil and the United States)

Biography


Christen Smith is an assistant professor of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. She received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Princeton University and her Ph.D. in cultural and social anthropology from Stanford University.Her work focuses on gendered anti-Black state violence and Black communities' responses to it in Brazil and the Americas. She is particularly interested in the performative aspects of anti-Black violence, transnational Black liberation struggles and global racial formation. She also researches Black women’s experiences with state violence, anti-Black policing in the Americas, death squads, the paradoxical relationship between Black people and the nation-state in the Americas, and violence and racial representation. Her book, Afro-Paradise: Blackness, Violence and Performance in Brazil (University of Illinois Press, 2016) explores the visual and performatic economies of the Black body in pain as an ironic transfer point for the production of Brazil’s racial state. 

 

Additional affiliations: Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS), Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies, Center for Women and Gender Studies (CWGS),

Courses taught:

 

Undergraduate: Politics of Race and Violence in Brazil; Black Women, Struggle and the Transnational State; Anthropology for Liberation?

 

Graduate: Race, Violence and Brazil; Performance, Race, Violence and the Body; Violence, Trauma, Memory

 

 

Courses


LAS 324L • Black Women/Transnatl State

39645 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM SAC 5.102
(also listed as AFR 372F, ANT 324L, WGS 340)

This course surveys black women’s experiences living with and confronting state oppression around the world. From the United States to Brazil, black women experience similar patterns of political, social and economic inequality. Transnationally, racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, and classism affect the quality of life of black women, particularly within nation-states with legacies of slavery and colonialism. This course takes an historical, social and theoretical look at the roots of this inequality and how black women have chosen to respond to it locally and globally. How have interlocking forms of oppression affected black women’s citizenship within the modern nation-state? How have black women, in turn, sought to organize themselves in response to this oppression?

Objectives

1) To think critically about the multiple forms of oppression that affect black women’s lives globally;

2) To consider how black women’s political identity has been defined by experiences with oppression transnationally;

3) To define and articulate black women’s agency in response to oppression

Key Topics: Racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, classism, transnationalism, representation, agency, black feminism.

LAS 324L • Pol Of Race/Violnc Brazil

39660 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 201
(also listed as AFR 374E, ANT 324L)

This course explores race/gender/sexuality, violence and everyday life in Brazil. Brazil’s history has been characterized by moments of violent encounter, from colonization, to slavery, to clashes between police and residents across its major cities today. These violent encounters have been, in many ways, racialized, gendered and sexualized. This class investigates the race/gender/sexuality aspects of multiple forms of violence in Brazil, and how this violence creates, defines and maintains social hierarchies in the nation.

Throughout the course we will think through the question “what is violence?” as we discuss the concept’s physical, structural and symbolic forms. The course pays particular attention to the politics of blackness and the unique relationship black Brazilians have to the nation-state. We will also discuss the politics of writing and theorizing violence when doing social analysis, and the precarious balance between defining and addressing issues of violence, and glorifying it.

Objectives: 1) To think critically about violence not only as a physical encounter, but a multilayered phenomenon that manifests itself in different ways; 2) To consider how race functions in Brazil and what violence has to do with it; 3) To better understand the politics of discussing and writing about race and violence particularly within the field of anthropology.

Key topics: Colonization, slavery, blackness, whiteness, racial democracy, urban conflict, police repression, death, gender, sexuality, urban cleansing/gentrification, land conflict, imprisonment, symbolic violence, structural violence, physical violence, genocide.

ANT 324L • Anthropology For Liberation

30513 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM SAC 5.118
(also listed as AFR 372C)

ANT 391 • Violence, Trauma, Memory

30675 • Fall 2015
Meets TH 1:00PM-4:00PM SAC 4.120

LAS F324L • Pol Of Race/Violnc Brazil

84740 • Summer 2015
Meets MTWTHF 11:30AM-1:00PM SAC 4.118

AFR 387D • Performnc/Race/Violence/Body

29880 • Spring 2015
Meets TH 9:00AM-12:00PM CBA 4.342
(also listed as ANT 391, WGS 393)

This course examines the complex relationship between performance, the body politic, violence, race, and gender. Course participants will engage with a survey of texts that interrogate thiis relationship from the colonial/conquest//slavery period through today. The focus, while global, will primarily concentrate on the Americas. Using the ethnographic and theoretical lens of performance, performativity, and enactment, we will examine the multivalent layes of violent repression at work within multiple societies at various temporal moments. Within this framework, participants will critically reflect upon how violence, in its alternate forms, impacts identity formation by inscribing race, gender, and sexuality onto the body at multiple social and cultutral junctures. One og the primaru objectives of the course is to theoretically engage with the relationship between the body, identity, and state, structural and symbolic violence. Addressing the politics of representation as a principle theme, we interrogate how theories of performance make power somatically legible, and how the relationship between performance and the body have everything to do with social order and repression.

 

 

LAS 324L • Black Women/Transnatl State

39605 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM GEA 127
(also listed as AFR 372F, ANT 324L, WGS 340)

This course surveys black women’s experiences living with and confronting state

oppression around the world. From the United States to Brazil, black women experience

similar patterns of political, social and economic inequality. Transnationally, racism,

sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, and classism affect the quality of life of black women,

particularly within nation-states with legacies of slavery and colonialism. This course

takes an historical, social and theoretical look at the roots of this inequality and how

black women have chosen to respond to it locally and globally. How have interlocking

forms of oppression affected black women’s citizenship within the modern nation-state?

How have black women, in turn, sought to organize themselves in response to this

oppression?

Objectives 1) To think critically about the multiple forms of oppression that affect black women’s

lives globally; 2) To consider how black women’s political identity has been defined by

experiences with oppression transnationally; 3) To define and articulate black women’s agency in

response to oppression

Key Topics: Racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, classism, transnationalism,

representation, agency, black feminism.

LAS 324L • Pol Of Race/Violnc Brazil

40562 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM SAC 4.174
(also listed as AFR 374E, ANT 324L)

This course explores race/gender/sexuality, violence and everyday life in Brazil. Brazil’s history has been

characterized by moments of violent encounter, from colonization, to slavery, to clashes between police

and residents across its major cities today. These violent encounters have been, in many ways, racialized,

gendered and sexualized. This class investigates the race/gender/sexuality aspects of multiple forms of

violence in Brazil, and how this violence creates, defines and maintains social hierarchies in the nation.

Throughout the course we will think through the question “what is violence?” as we discuss the concept’s

physical, structural and symbolic forms. The course pays particular attention to the politics of blackness

and the unique relationship black Brazilians have to the nation-state. We will also discuss the politics of

writing and theorizing violence when doing social analysis, and the precarious balance between defining

and addressing issues of violence, and glorifying it.

Objectives: 1) To think critically about violence not only as a physical encounter, but a multilayered

phenomenon that manifests itself in different ways; 2) To consider how race functions in Brazil and what

violence has to do with it; 3) To better understand the politics of discussing and writing about race and

violence particularly within the field of anthropology.

Key topics: Colonization, slavery, blackness, whiteness, racial democracy, urban conflict, police

repression, death, gender, sexuality, urban cleansing/gentrification, land conflict, imprisonment, symbolic

violence, structural violence, physical violence, genocide.

LAS 391 • Race, Violence, And Brazil

40794 • Fall 2014
Meets T 1:00PM-4:00PM SAC 4.120
(also listed as AFR 381, ANT 391)

This course explores race/gender/sexuality, violence and everyday life in Brazil. Brazil’s history has been characterized by moments of violent encounter, from colonization, to slavery, to clashes between police and residents across Brazil’s major cities today

ANT 324L • Anthropology For Liberation

31630 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM UTC 1.116
(also listed as AFR 372C, WGS 340)

The discipline of anthropology has a long, tense history with its colonial past.  As a field, it emerged out of the slavery/conquest/colonial era, and in many ways cannot be separated from the leagcies of racism, sexism, calssism and colonialism that shaped its beginnings.  Given this backdrop, what does anthropology for liberation look like? Is this even possible?  If so, what might a methodology for this model?  What questions would an anthropology for liberation ask, and what models would it uphold?  The purpose of this class is to explore these questions and others as we take a critical look at anthropologists' quests to shifting the the legacy of anthropology from the colonial; toward freedom and liberation.  Through critical readings, we will explore anthropology's relationship to human rights, violence, questions of race, gender and sexuality, imperialism and neoliberalism, and some of the ways that some anthropologists have chosen to use their field work to turn anthropology on its head rather than reinscribe its divisive past.

ANT 391 • Performnc/Race/Violence/Body

31890 • Spring 2014
Meets T 11:00AM-2:00PM SAC 5.124

LAS 324L • Black Women/Struggle/Transnatl

40742 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM SAC 5.102
(also listed as AFR 372F, ANT 324L, WGS 340)

This course surveys Black women's experiences livingwith and confrontingstate oppressionaround the world. From the United Statesto Brazil Black women experience similar patterns of political, social, and economic inequality. Transnationally, racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia,andclassism affect the quality of life of Black women, particularly within nation-states with legacies of slavery and colonialism. This course takesan historical, social, andtheoretical look at the roots of this inequality and how Black women have chosen to respond to it locally and globally. Howhave interlocking forms of oppression affect Black women's citizenship within the modern nation-state? How have Black women, in turn, sought to organize themselves inresponse to this oppression? Key themes include racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, classism, migration, and Black feminism.

 

Assignments

Class Attendance – 15%

Engaged participation in class discussion – 15%

Midterm – 25%

Final – 25%

Research Report Paper – 10%

Research Report Team Presentation – 10%

 

 

 Sample texts

Davis, A. Y. 1983. Women, race & class, 1st Vintage Books edition. New York: Vintage Books.

James, J. 1999. Shadowboxing : representations of black feminist politics, 1st edition. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Oparah, J. C. 2005. Global lockdown : race, gender, and the prison-industrial complex. New York: Routledge.

 

 

LAS 324L • Pol Of Race/Violnc Brazil

40754 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM SAC 4.118
(also listed as AFR 374E, ANT 324L)

This course explores race/gender/sexuality, violence and everyday life in Brazil. Brazil’s history has been characterized by moments of violent encounter, from colonization, to slavery, to clashes between police and residents across Brazil’s major cities today. These violent encounters have been, in many ways, racialized, gendered and sexualized. This class investigates the race/gender/sexuality aspects of multiple forms of violence in Brazil, and how this violence creates, defines and maintains social hierarchies in the nation. Throughout the course we will think through the question “what is violence?” as we discuss the concept’s physical, structural and symbolic forms. The course pays particular attention to the politics of blackness and the unique relationship black Brazilians have to the nation-state. We will also discuss the politics of writing and theorizing violence when doing social analysis, and the precarious balance between defining and addressing issues of violence, and glorifying it.

Core Texts

~ Nancy ScheperHughes, Death Without Weeping (selected Chapters)

~Theresa Caldeira, City ot VVaiIs (selected chapters)

~ Donna Goldstein, Laughter out of Piace (selected chapters) ~Robin Sheriff, Dreaming Equality (selected Chapters)

~Caldweli, Kia, Negras in Brazil: Reenvisioning Black Women, Citizenship, And the Politics of identity (selected chapters) ~De Jesus, Carolina Marie et al., The Unedited Diaries oi Caroline Maria de Jesus (seiected Chapters)

Supplemental Texts

~Michael Hanonard ed., Racial Politics in Contemporary Brazil (selected Chapters)

~Gonzalez, Leila` “The Unified Black Movement: A New State in Black Political Mobilization” in Race, Class and Power in Brazil, ed. Pierre-Michel Fontaine

~Policing Rio de Janeiro: Repression and Resistance in a lQtn-oentury City. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. (selected chapters)

~Chevigny, Paul Edge of the Knife: Police Violence in the Americas (selected chapters)

~Michael Mitchell and Charles VVood, “lronies ot Citizenship: Skin Color, Police Brutality, and the Challenge to Democracy in Brazil.” Social Forces

~Arendt, Hannah “Reflections on Violence"

Booth, Wayne C, et al. The Craft of Research (guide to writing research papers selected Chapters).

LAS F324L • Pol Of Race/Violnc Brazil

85795 • Summer 2013
Meets MTWTHF 10:00AM-11:30AM SAC 5.118
(also listed as AFR F374E, ANT F324L)

This course explores race/gender/sexuality, violence and everyday life in Brazil. Brazil’s history has been characterized by moments of violent encounter, from colonization, to slavery, to clashes between police and residents across Brazil’s major cities today. These violent encounters have been, in many ways, racialized, gendered and sexualized. This class investigates the race/gender/sexuality aspects of multiple forms of violence in Brazil, and how this violence creates, defines and maintains social hierarchies in the nation. Throughout the course we will think through the question “what is violence?” as we discuss the concept’s physical, structural and symbolic forms. The course pays particular attention to the politics of blackness and the unique relationship black Brazilians have to the nation-state. We will also discuss the politics of writing and theorizing violence when doing social analysis, and the precarious balance between defining and addressing issues of violence, and glorifying it.

LAS 324L • Pol Of Race/Violnc In Brazil

40213 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM SAC 4.118
(also listed as AFR 374E, ANT 324L)

This course explores race/gender/sexuality, violence and everyday life in Brazil. Brazil’s history has been characterized by moments of violent encounter, from colonization, to slavery, to clashes between police and residents across Brazil’s major cities today. These violent encounters have been, in many ways, racialized, gendered and sexualized. This class investigates the race/gender/sexuality aspects of multiple forms of violence in Brazil, and how this violence creates, defines and maintains social hierarchies in the nation. Throughout the course we will think through the question “what is violence?” as we discuss the concept’s physical, structural and symbolic forms. The course pays particular attention to the politics of blackness and the unique relationship black Brazilians have to the nation-state. We will also discuss the politics of writing and theorizing violence when doing social analysis, and the precarious balance between defining and addressing issues of violence, and glorifying it.

Objectives: 1) To think critically about violence not only as a physical encounter, but a multilayered phenomenon that manifests itself in different ways; 2) To consider how race functions in Brazil and what violence has to do with it; 3) To better understand the politics of discussing and writing about race and violence particularly within the field of anthropology.

Key topics: Colonization, slavery, blackness, whiteness, racial democracy, urban conflict, police repression, death, gender, sexuality, urban cleansing/gentrification, land conflict, imprisonment, symbolic violence, structural violence, physical violence, genocide.

LAS 391 • Performnc/Race/Violence/Body

40484 • Fall 2012
Meets TH 3:00PM-6:00PM SAC 4.116

AFR 301 • African American Culture

30365 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM UTC 4.134

This course surveys African American cultural production from the 1600s to the present. Topics cover the circumstances and responses of blacks during North American enslavement, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Great Migration, The Harlem Renaissance, The Civil Rights Movement, and in contemporary contexts. Class sessions will reflect our reading of primary and secondary texts that embody a wide range of African American religious, political, social and artistic thought and production. The class will fill gaps in students’ knowledge about African American culture and history and provide a foundation for future Black Studies course work.

Required Texts:

Kindred (Octavia Butler)

Souls of Black Folk (W.E.B. Du Bois)

Why We Can’t Wait (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Price of the Ticket (Frederick Harris)

Good Ole’ Fashioned Composition Notebook

Graded Assessments (100 points available):

Unannounced (10) Quiz #1 Kindred, lectures & other readings Unannounced

(10) Quiz #2 Souls of Black Folk, lectures & other readings

10/9/14: (30) Mid-term Test

Unannounced (10) Quiz #3 Why We Can’t Wait, lectures & other readings

Unannounced (10) Quiz #4 (Price of the Ticket; lectures & other readings

12/5/14: (30) Final Test 

AFR 301 • African American Culture

34905 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM UTC 4.134

This course surveys African American cultural production from the 1600s to the present. Topics cover the circumstances and responses of blacks during North American enslavement, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Great Migration, The Harlem Renaissance, The Civil Rights Movement, and in contemporary contexts. Class sessions will reflect our reading of primary and secondary texts that embody a wide range of African American religious, political, social and artistic thought and production. The class will fill gaps in students’ knowledge about African American culture and history and provide a foundation for future Black Studies course work.

Required Texts:

Kindred (Octavia Butler)

Souls of Black Folk (W.E.B. Du Bois)

Why We Can’t Wait (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Price of the Ticket (Frederick Harris)

Good Ole’ Fashioned Composition Notebook

Graded Assessments (100 points available):

Unannounced (10) Quiz #1 Kindred, lectures & other readings Unannounced

(10) Quiz #2 Souls of Black Folk, lectures & other readings

10/9/14: (30) Mid-term Test

Unannounced (10) Quiz #3 Why We Can’t Wait, lectures & other readings

Unannounced (10) Quiz #4 (Price of the Ticket; lectures & other readings

12/5/14: (30) Final Test 

AFR 374E • Pol Of Race/Violnc In Brazil-W

36020 • Fall 2008
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.120

Please check back for updates.

AFR 374E • Image, Race, And Latin America

35840 • Spring 2008
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM MEZ 2.124

Please check back for updates.

AFR 374E • Pol Of Race/Violnc In Brazil-W

36525 • Fall 2007
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM JES A207A

Please check back for updates.

Curriculum Vitae


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External Links



  • Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
    SRH 1.310
    2300 Red River Street D0800
    Austin, Texas 78712