“The Atlantis Effect: Aquatic Invocations, Spirituality, and the Re(Claiming) Of Women’s Spaces through the Works and Archives of Lydia Cabrera, Gloria Anzaldúa and tatiana de la tierra”
Earlier today I had the pleasure of attending a talk at UWM by a visiting professor of Latina/o Literature from the University of Wisconsin- Parkside named Sarah E. Piña. She gave a talk about the research she is doing for the book she is currently working on. Her talk was titled “The Atlantis Effect: Aquatic Invocations, Spirituality, and the Re(Claiming) Of Women’s Spaces through the Works and Archives of Lydia Cabrera, Gloria Anzaldúa and tatiana de la tierra”.
Her work is based on archival findings of core similarities in the works of three different Latinx queer authors: Cuban ethnographer Lydia Cabrera, Chicana scholar and author Gloria Anzaldúa and Colombian author tatiana de la tierra. All three authors have their works archived in libraries around the Americas, have writings that consistently refer to Afrocuban religious traditions, and have extensive water imagery in their writings. All three writers consistently discuss water, water imagery, and some queer dieties and goddesses associated with water.
Piña described “The Atlantis Effect” as the connection that these three authors have with water as a feminine-queer, autonomous and decolonial space in which they cannot be conquered or broken. She described water as having the metaphorical quality of allowing it to represent the fluidity of gender, sexuality, and spirituality— in essence a liminal space where marginalized queer women of color are able to heal and develop their identities without the restrictions that they face on dry, rigid land. The water represents a space without the restrictions of the Borderlands which Gloria Anzaldúa describes in her work. Ultimately, she describes this connection to the water as something that allows these authors the autonomy to reclaim their own spaces through the texts that they created.
All of the authors also hold in common literary ties and references to watery goddesses and dieties commonly linked with the AfroCuban religion of Santeria. What she described as most common in her talk were references to the Mother of the Orishas and coincidentally the goddess of the ocean, Yemayá. She briefly described how the presence of powerful female dieties in Santeria gives the religion a space more open to the queer and the feminine. She gave reference to three chapters that she has written as: 1-The Atlantis Effect:Liberation, Healing and Preservation; 2-Water Spaces and Gender-queer Aquatic Beings; 3-Mujeres al Agua: Where Yemayá meets Ochún.
Piña stated that her book will probably be out in the next couple of years; I for one cannot wait to buy a copy and read it as her work has very direct ties to the themes which I tend to deal with in my filmmaking. It also sounds like an extremely empowering text, especially for the Latinx queer community.