Frances Negrón-Muntaner, "The Art of ‘Value and Change’: Creating a Just Economy in Puerto Rico"

Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 7 - 8:30pm

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As part of the Spring 2020 Intra-Disciplinary Seminar series, Frances Negrón-Muntaner recorded a lecture on March 31, 2020. Watch online.

siteIn 2018 the scholar, writer, and artist Frances Negrón-Muntaner conceived the award-winning art installation Valor y Cambio to explore what people in Puerto Rico, a colony of the United States currently subject to severe austerity measures, valued. The project sought to introduce the concept of community currency and provide an opportunity to experience a non-extractive economy. In her talk, Negrón-Muntaner reflects on Valor y Cambio’s origins and impact, the power of art to foster cultures of equality, and a new concept stemming from the project: decolonial joy. This is a specific form of joy that arises when individuals and communities feel the possibility of a different present, one where neither colonialism nor coloniality rules over their lives.

Frances Negrón-Muntaner is a filmmaker, writer, scholar and professor at Columbia University, where she is also the founding curator of the Latino Arts and Activism Archive. Among her books and publications are: Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture (CHOICE Award, 2004), The Latino Media Gap (2014), and Sovereign Acts: Contesting Colonialism in Native Nations and Latinx America (2017). Her most recent films include Small City, Big Change (2013), War for Guam (2015), and Life Outside (2016). In 2019, she launched Valor y Cambio, an art, digital storytelling, and just economy project in Puerto Rico for which she was awarded the 2019 Premio Borimix from the Society for Educational Arts in New York.

The Spring 2020 IDS Lecture Series at The Cooper Union is organized by Leslie Hewitt and Omar Berrada. The IDS Public Lecture Series is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding and support from the Robert Lehman Foundation for the series. The IDS Public Lecture Series is also made possible by generous support from The Open Society Foundations.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.