Start Submission Become a Reviewer

Reading: Materializing Voice: A Diasporic Lineage of Flour, Spice, and Hair


A- A+
Alt. Display

Scholarly Article

Materializing Voice: A Diasporic Lineage of Flour, Spice, and Hair


Vanessa Godden

McMaster University | University of Toronto, CA
About Vanessa
Vanessa Godden is a queer Indo-Trinidadian and Euro-Canadian artist and academic based in Toronto, Canada. Vanessa has a PhD from the Victorian College of the Arts (2020), supported through the Melbourne International Research Scholarship and Melbourne International Fee Remission Scholarship. They received their MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (2014) and BFA from the University of Houston (2012). Their artistic practice uses performative gestures to explore how personal histories of sexual assault, cultural heritage, and the body in relation to geographic space can be conveyed through material engagements with the body.
X close


“Materializing Voice: A Diasporic Lineage of Flour, Spice, and Hair” attunes to how performative process and material entanglement expand artistic depictions of rape and racism, to decolonize trauma in performative arts practices. In this research, my experiences of the aftermath of rape are considered through the influence of my diasporic identity. The two are entangled as my management of the aftereffects of rape are impacted by my own cultural influences. The project uncovers how the way I have learnt to move through the aftermath of rape and perpetual experiences of racism has been a process of reorienting myself in my body through cycles of pain and perseverance.

From table manners gone awry to displaced matter, the imagery and methods used throughout this project allude to the deeply personal ways in which my trauma is embodied. My body drags itself through flour, curry, and chili powder, and hair emerges and accumulates at the back of my throat. These cyclical and processual rituals piece together a narrative of my body being put back together after having been fragmented through racism and rape. In this practice-based research—the artwork and the writing and thinking through the practice in this essay—I find agency in my body and my voice, inviting others to affectively engage with this agency.


 “Materializing Voice: A Diasporic Lineage of Flour, Spice, and Hair” explora cómo el proceso performativo y el entrelazamiento material expanden las representaciones artísticas de la violación y el racismo, para decolonizar el trauma en las prácticas de artes performativas. En esta investigación, mis experiencias de las secuelas de un acto de violación se entrelazan con mi identidad diaspórica, ya que mi manejo de las secuelas de la violación se ven afectadas por la influencia de mi cultura. El proyecto descubre cómo la forma en que he aprendido a moverme en las secuelas de la violación y las perpetuas experiencias de racismo ha implicado un proceso de reorientación en mi cuerpo durante ciclos de dolor y perseverancia.

Desde los modales de mesa torcidos hasta la materia desplazada, las imágenes y los métodos utilizados a lo largo de este proyecto aluden a las formas profundamente personales en que se encarna el trauma. Mi cuerpo se arrastra a través de la harina, el curry y el chile en polvo, y el cabello emerge y se acumula en la parte posterior de mi garganta. Estos rituales cíclicos y procesuales construyen la narrativa de mi cuerpo que se vuelve a componer después de haber sido fragmentado por el racismo y la violación. En esta investigación basada en la práctica —la obra de arte y la escritura y el pensamiento alrededor de la práctica en esta tesis— encuentro agencia en mi cuerpo y en mi voz, invitando a otros a involucrarse afectivamente con esta agencia.

How to Cite: Godden, V., 2020. Materializing Voice: A Diasporic Lineage of Flour, Spice, and Hair. Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies, 4(2), pp.106–126. DOI:
Published on 27 Dec 2020.
Peer Reviewed


  • PDF (EN)

    comments powered by Disqus