Where Blackness dies: The aesthetics of a massacre and the violence of remembering

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This article focuses on the presence of ‘Blackness’ in Latin America, and the role/location of ‘Blackness’ in the necropolitics of Mexico, in particular, as a visual mode of aestheticizing violence in the aftermath of the 2010 Tamaulipas massacre of 72 undocumented migrants. As an act of remembering the victims, Mexican journalists, writers, and activists created a digital altar: 72 Migrantes. Focusing on photography and narrative as visual frames of Blackness, this article analyzes the representation of Black bodies in the digital altar to conceptualize Blackness as: a constitutive part of violent landscapes; a symptom and supplement of that violence; and, conversely, the location itself from which to critique that violence. At stake is a call for Blackness to be read within hemispheric Latin Americanist visual studies as a locus for understanding antisociality and critical race theory by closely studying the role of the human, social death, and the aesthetics of remembrance. Over 10 years after the massacre, the arguments raised in this article both implicitly and explicitly underscore the need to conceptualize contemporary Blackness and death in the wake of the growing anti-racism activism, Black Lives Matter, and the disproportionate number of people of color who have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-47
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Visual Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • aesthetics
  • Blackness
  • death
  • Garifuna
  • Mexico
  • photography
  • remembrance
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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