FI Faculty Fellow, Javiela Evangelista was invited to present at the October 2022 Loophole of Retreat: Venice, a renowned three-day gathering in Venice, Italy, around the work of award-winning artist Simone Leigh. Leigh represented the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with her exhibition, “Sovereignty”.
Loophole of Retreat: Venice comprised dialogue, performances, and presentations centered on Black women’s intellectual and creative labor. The conceptual frame is drawn from the 1861 autobiography of Harriet Jacobs, a formerly enslaved woman who, for seven years after her escape, lived in a crawlspace she described as a “loophole of retreat.” Jacobs simultaneously claimed this site as both an enclosure and a space for enacting practices of freedom — practices of thinking, planning, writing, and imagining new forms of freedom.
Organized by Rashida Bumbray (Open Society Foundation) alongside curatorial advisors Dr. Saidiya Hartman (Columbia University) and Dr. Tina Campt (Brown University), this gathering built on the 2019 Loophole at the Guggenheim Museum and was guided by key directives including sovereignty, maroonage, manual, magical realism, and medicine.
Javiela made connections between the directives of sovereignty and maroonage, and the ongoing movement to restore the citizenship of denationalized Dominicans in the Dominican Republic and dismantle anti-blackness. In collaboration, Ana Maria Belique of Reconoci.do joined by video with critical updates from the Dominican Republic. Javiela is “eternally grateful for Simone, Rashida, Tina, Saidiya and all at Loophole of Retreat: Venice, for offerings and activations that illuminate paths and open portals.”
Emerging out of participatory research, Javiela Evangelista is developing a book manuscript, an ethnographic analysis of the largest case of mass statelessness in the western hemisphere, the contemporary denationalization of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.
An Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies at New York City College of Technology, she holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Graduate Center, CUNY, an MA from the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University, and a B.A. from Oberlin College.
Her research has been supported by the Mahindra Humanities Center (Harvard University), Mellon Foundation, and Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Her research has also been featured in Publication of Afro Latin/American Research Association (forthcoming 2023), National Political Science Review and Interdisciplinary Team Teaching (Palgrave).