Irina Popescu

Professor of Latin America, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies, Bowdoin College

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About Irina

Popescu's research focuses on the intersections of human rights and cultural production in the Americas. Overarching themes in Popescu's writings include how literature, visual arts, and film in the Americas impact human rights discourses, especially through their engagement with critical gender and sexuality studies and critical race studies.


In the News

Opinion: "3 Teaching Exercises for Mindfulness in the Classroom," Irina Popescu, Inside Higher Ed, February 2, 2022.
Opinion: "Reflections on the Invisible Labor of Online Teaching," Irina Popescu, Inside Higher Ed, June 24, 2020.
Opinion: "Teaching Through Impostor Monsters," Irina Popescu, Inside Higher Ed, February 4, 2020.
Opinion: "Radical Object: A Pot Plant From Patty Ortiz’s “WWKY: I Am Here”," Irina Popescu, History Workshop, January 9, 2019.
Opinion: "A Call for Curatorial Teaching," Irina Popescu, Inside Higher Ed, November 13, 2018.
Opinion: "The Educational Power of Discomfort," Irina Popescu, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17, 2016.


"Bodies and Spaces of Feminicidio: Feminist Performance Artivism in Mexico" Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies (2021).

Explores how the radical work of women performance artists and collectives in Mexico challenge and transform the injustices that shape everyday life. Looks at the work and career of Lorena Wolffer, a Mexico-city based feminist performance artist who, for over twenty years, created interventions in order to intersect political activism with performance.

"Memorialization and Escraches: Ni una Menos and the documentation of Feminicidio in Argentina" The Latin Americanist 65, no. 3 (2021): 367-392.

Explores the recent history of the Ni una menos movement in Argentina as well as investigates two specific methods of activism employed by the feminist collective. Emphasizes that the collective, in seeking to cast feminicide as a human rights abuse, actively positions it as a public crime through the employment of escraches (public shaming of public officials) and memorialisation.

"Melodrama and the Production of Empathy in Manuel Puig’s El Beso De La Mujer Araña" Latin American Literary Review 47, no. 94 (2020).

Investigates how empathy can be incrementally learned through a melodramatic storytelling practice and, eventually, mobilized to effect political and social change.

Biting Iron, Forever Smiling: the Iron-Bit, the Wounded Mouth, and Un-Silencing in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Investigates how Toni Morrison's Beloved turned to the iron bit as a physical torture device both silencing and restructuring the mouth into a smile and as a figurative, metaphorical device employed inside the novel to explore how the process of telling and the instrument of telling (the mouth) gain the power to un-silence the past.

"Empathetic Trappings: Revisiting the Nineteenth Century in Octavia Butler’s Kindred" Journal of Human Rights 17, no. 2 (2017): 184-198.

Investigates Octavia Butler's speculative novel, Kindred (1979) through the lens of human rights, empathy, and the relationship between the body, pain, and the reader.