[Colloquium] Approximations of the feminine: Citations of gender and race in Mexican K-pop counterpublics

This talk underscores the discursive embodied practices of young consumer-fans of Kpop (i.e. k-popers) in the Mexican context. I begin with a discussion of K-pop in Mexico as an emergent localized counterpublic (Warner 2002) with shared discursive practices within broader transnational youth culture. Youth’s citational practices through digital media is key to the construction of this counterpublic. The second half of my talk focuses on a subset of the Mexican K-pop counterpublic: youth who engage in dance cover, a rendition of the original choreography of K-pop music videos. Treating the dance cover as an act of citation, I analyze how one Mexican dance cover group performs aegyo, a linguistic and embodied register often glossed as feminized ‘cuteness’. I argue that such local citations and especially their gendered inflections allow K-pop dancers to perform a queer phenomenology, problematizing heteronormativity in their local context and other dominant forms of appropriate personhood. On the one hand, the proliferation of indexical links made possible through citation allows K-pop fans to harness the force of a K-pop public for their own local needs. An examination of metapragmatic discourse surrounding the dance cover reveals gender performance is marked while that of race is not. Part of this perceptual salience of gender is linked to hegemonic understandings of masculinity which regiments gender performance within the broader Mexican public. This study highlights the frictions between counter and dominant publics that K-pop fans must navigate despite their ostensibly agentive discursive and embodied performances.