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Manuela Valle-Castro
Organizer, academic

August 30, 2017

Manuela Valle-Castro is a feminist organizer and academic from Chile who just started working with AKA artist-run as the coordinator for Locals Only, a Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Initiative project that will explore food security, reciprocity and intergenerational exchange in Riversdale, on Treaty 6 Territory. For the past ten years Manuela has been teaching intersectional feminist theories, Latin American culture and politics, gender and popular culture and other social justice related courses, incorporating community engagement as a form of critical pedagogy. She holds a PhD in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice from the University of British Columbia, where her doctoral dissertation documented the political potential of performance as activism in the context of pronounced neoliberalism in Chile. She relocated from Vancouver to Riversdale two years ago where she lives with her daughters Ramona and Guadalupe, their dog Frida and their cats Sasquatch and Tom.

1. Community!

I grew up during the military dictatorship in Chile and an urgent sense community was ingrained into every part of life: school, university, workplace, neighbourhoods. There was a long history and culture of associativity in Chile, but this was harshly surveilled and punished during Pinochet’s years. Everything I learned those years emphasized the importance of relying on each other for survival and building collective power for social change. There is a saying that if two Chileans meet in any part of the world, they will start a collective! This is something I really love about the Prairies; I have found here a lot of that sense of community, mutual care, reciprocity, and the idea that we are in fact responsible and accountable for each other’s well being.

2. Feminist DIY Punk

Riot grrls in the 1990s completely changed the way I understood music and the potential of feminist Do-It-Yourself art in expressing political ideas and catalyzing cultural change. In Chile I played in several punk bands and co-founded a festival called Femfest to showcase feminist bands as well as grassroots organizations and artists. That festival has been going for thirteen years now without any form of corporate funding! In Saskatoon I organize with Girls Rock Saskatoon. I also currently play guitar and sing in a couple of bands (Babyfats, Bunwitch) and we just played a festival called FLIP (Femmes Love Intersectional Politics) FEST in Lethbridge. There were tons of amazing bands fronted by femmes, a workshop on anti-oppression training, and a panel on women of color. We had the best time meeting Prairie feminists of all genders!

3. Art & performance as activism

Jamie Black, The REDress Project

During the military dictatorships of Chile and Argentina, human rights groups composed mostly by women looking for the disappeared would perform public grieving as a way to denounce the violence of the state. With the formal end of the dictatorship in Chile, feminist groups, students, and sexual minorities incorporated performance as a way to convey what words could not and to recover the utopian sense of public protest that was crushed through state violence. I have noticed that these protest tactics travel across borders in a decentralized manner, so that the installations of empty shoes or red dresses that have been used to denounce misogynist violence in Latin America have also become a tactic in Canada for making a public statement about missing and murdered Indigenous women – like in the incredible REDress Project by Jamie Black.

4. Collage

I am obsessed with deconstructing and resignifying images and words on women’s magazines. When I came across the collage work of Martha Rosler, it really blew my mind. She is fantastic at putting an image out of context so that it acquires a completely different meaning. I have started doing collage with my young daughters who are six and nine, and have discovered that it works as a form of media literacy. As we cut images, we talk about how they are made, what they represent, and how they make us feel.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel

I am a hardcore Joss Whedon fan and cannot count how many times I have watched these shows from back to back. I am currently on season two of Buffy again!



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