I am a scholar of democracy and political representation, with a primary geographical focus on Latin America. My work is dedicated to analyzing struggles over who gets to be politically represented, how, and by whom. I am especially interested in how such struggles occur in the wake of economic and political transformations, and in how they shape notions of community and citizenship, as well as structures of race, gender, sex, and class. Rather than focusing exclusively on electoral representation, I study how cultural production and policy are used as tools for political representation, education, and mobilization. To do so, I look to a diversity of actors and institutions, including artists, intellectuals, and activists, as well as corporations, policymakers, and economic elites. Throughout, I strive to connect political science to other fields of inquiry such as art history, sociology, and anthropology thereby both broadening the ambit of political scholarship and creating work that is legible to a wide range of disciplines.
My research has been supported by grants and fellowships including a Residential Fellowship at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California-San Diego, a Harper/Visiting Committee Write-Up Award from the University of Chicago, a Fulbright-García Robles Scholarship for Doctoral Studies, a Dissertation Research Award from the Division of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, a Field Research Grant from the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago, and scholarships from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) and Mexico’s Department of Education (SEP).
My book project, Politics in a House of Mirrors: Art, Nationalism, and Representation in Contemporary Mexico, offers an account of the ways in which Mexico’s transition to formal electoral democracy and its implementation of market-oriented reforms transformed the country’s cultural policies and institutions, as well as the political content of its works of art. These changes, I argue, have profoundly shaped Mexico’s national narratives, forms of civic participation, and the nature of political critique. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research, archival research, and visual art analysis – including participant-observation in a wide range of cultural institutions and state offices and over a hundred in-depth interviews with members of the art world, policymakers, philanthropists, and bureaucrats – I demonstrate how the creative class negotiates a novel political environment marked by tensions between autocratic institutional legacies, emergent market logics, and a newly-liberalized public sphere. I demonstrate how these changes have affected Mexican politics, ranging from how the state commemorates its history and organizes taxation, to how economic elites buy social capital and influence public institutions, through to how feminist activists contest gender-based violence. Art, I argue, is a privileged site from which to examine the consequences of political-economic liberalization, given that it evidences the tensions between political critique, freedom of expression, and collective action.
Articles in peer reviewed journals
Islas Weinstein, Tania. “Expuestas: Laborious Expectations and the Plight of Feminist Art in Contemporary Mexico.” Accepted for publication in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.
Islas Weinstein, Tania. “A Eulogy for the Coloso: The politics of commemoration in Calderón’s Mexico.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. 4(2): 479-499.
Islas Weinstein, Tania. “La Censura Figurativa.” Istor. 35: 67-90.
Islas Weinstein, Tania. (with Mariana Castillo Deball and Alberto Ortega). Sun Ra. En algún lado y en ninguno. Poemas. Bom Dia Books/ArtsLibris.
Islas Weinstein, Tania. “Cecilia Vicuña, la palabradora.” Campo de Relámpagos.
Islas Weinstein, Tania and Dutkiewicz, Jan. “Herman Nitsch en México: La polémica que pudo ser.” Horizontal.