Alejandro Escalante received his PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill‘s Department of Religious Studies. He is an ethnographer specializing in Black Atlantic religions, Caribbean theory and philosophy, and queer theory. Currently, he serves as Lecturer in Social Anthropology in King’s College London’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies.
Alejandro’s research focuses on performances of gender and race during las fiestas tradicionales en honor a Santiago Apóstol, which takes place each July in the Afro-Puerto Rican city of Loíza, Puerto Rico. More narrowly, his work centers primarily on one festival character, “la loca.” Locas are bawdy and ribald personages who simultaneously entice and vex festival goers. Typically played by men in Loíza, locas mix and remix forms of identity through cross-dressing and parodic makeup. Using la loca as a method and theory of analysis, Alejandro’s work seeks to trace the ways that performances are tied to identities and how performances can be used to negotiate and upend identities.