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Materia: Light, Matter, Meat & Flesh: A Discussion with Valeria Meiller and Fabián Mosquera

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Materia: Light, Matter, Meat & Flesh: A Discussion with Valeria Meiller and Fabián Mosquera

Feb 02, 2021

materia’s third event event of the 2020-2021 academic term took place on January 28, 2021 via Zoom. Focused on the intersection between Light, Matter, Meat & Flesh, the gathering featured talks by graduate students Valeria Meiller (Spanish and Portuguese, Georgetown) and Fabián Mosquera (Hispanic Languages and Literatures, Pittsburgh).
 
In the first part of the session, the speakers delivered their talks back to back. Valeria Meiller introduced her project Matadero Modelo, a web archive that gathered 3D scans and partial reconstructions of slaughterhouses built by the architect Francisco Salamone in the 1930s in the Argentinean pampas. By reconstructing the architectures of Salamone’s buildings, Meiller sought to examine them as spaces that hold valuable answers to how the cattle industry helped shape a nation known worldwide for its meat production and steak culture. In her presentation, the researcher explained the significance of her findings and the way they are tied to her doctoral dissertation, titled Argentina: a Nation of Flesh. Fabian Mosquera proposed that Pasolini’s The Gospel According to Saint Matthew can be read as a meta-cinematographic community—a cloud of fireflies, a “synagogue of the iconoclast”—whose affective and poetic materiality prevails over the ruins of sociopolitical devastation. In explaining how the firefly constitutes a potent category within the Pasolinian critical lexicon, the speaker showed how the intermittent light of the animal embodies the precarious but obstinate production of a political episteme crafted by the homo/femina sacer in the face of apocalyptic violence.
 
The second part of the gathering consisted of a Q&A section and an open discussion about Meiller and Mosquera’s talks. Questions tackled theoretical issues pertaining to: the violence embedded in the division between humans and non-humans; the historical tension between urban and rural spaces, and between powerful and dispossessed subjects situated in both loci; the problem of religion in the context of progressive and/or avant-garde cinema; and possible dialogues to be established between European and Latin American art, among other topics. The meeting also discussed concerns peculiar to our contemporary times, marked by political and environmental crises and by the COVID-19 spread. The meeting ended on a hopeful note, with encouraging remarks by both invited speakers and materia organizers. 
 
A video of the talk is available here.
 
materia is a DLCL Focal Group on anthropodecentric thinking. Since 2014, the group has served as a platform for graduate and faculty research. Our meetings combine reading discussion, student presentations, and guest speakers. Regular workshop meetings include some twenty-five participants from ILAC and Comp Lit (the pillars of the group), as well as from English, MTL, German, Anthropology, and Music, among others. We collaborate with several other groups on campus and correspond with similar projects in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Cognate courses, as well as completed and ongoing dissertation projects, speak to the continuing impact of the group. There have been sixteen workshops and an international conference to date. The former average twenty-five participants; the latter had over seventy. The convening theme for our sixth year of activities will be “Life and Transmission.”
 
Session formats alternate to include discussions of readings moderated by faculty and graduate students, presentations of works-in-progress, and talks by guest speakers. All readings will be pre-distributed by email and are available to download from our website, materia.stanford.edu.
 
For more information, please contact Romina Wainberg at rwain@stanford.edu