American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-27-2020


New Mexican visual art and culture, as molded by state-sanctioned endeavors, is often casted in order to conceal the tension, conflict, and violence of settler colonialism and imperialism. Widely known myths of empire, such as the Tricultural myth, create a visualizing enterprise through which settler colonial logics transit and create political material reality. This thesis explores the following questions: How do New Mexican Hispanos and queer Chicanxs position themselves in relation to the logics of settler colonialism and empire? How are they positioned in relation to settler colonialism and empire? On the one hand, I argue that the state of New Mexico and the University of New Mexico prop and mitigate the shaping logics of settler colonialism and empire through visual regimes, culture and discourse. Through a settler colonial and queer of color critique, I deploy a visual analysis of the stolen Zia Pueblo sun sign, Conquistador statues, and the Three People’s murals. On the other hand, I offer a disruptive alternative to the visualizing enterprise of New Mexico. I frame my analysis with religious affects and queer of color critique to examine how erotic devotionalism, when cast by queer and transgender people of color, can be utilized as a liberatory tool. I spotlight the art of (J)Ade Cruz and Alma Lopez to envision how worldmaking aesthetics create a future-present rooted in racialized queer feeling, bodies, and ways of relating that are inherently anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and anti-US-empire-sensorium.




Affect, Performance, Queer of Color Critique, Visuality, Catholocism, US Southwest, Women of Color Feminisms, Critical Ethnic Studies

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Antonio T. Tiongson Jr.

Second Committee Member

Kency Cornejo

Third Committee Member

Kathleen Holscher