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Valor y Cambio currency, Personas de Peso Puerto Rico (People of Weight, Puerto Rico)
Valor y Cambio currency, Personas de Peso Puerto Rico (People of Weight, Puerto Rico)

April 24, 2023, 6:00 pm8:00 pm

ACT Cube
MIT Building E15-001
20 Ames Street
Cambridge, MA

In this event co-sponsored by CMSW, ACT, and ICEO, Prof. Frances Negrón-Muntaner (Columbia University) will discuss the origins, impact, and future of the award-winning artivist project Valor y Cambio (Value/Valour and Change), in conversation with Prof. Katerina González Seligmann (University of Connecticut).

Starting in Puerto Rico in 2019, Valor y Cambio repurposed an old ATM to create an experience of a non-extractive economy by inventing a world where the central unit of economic value was storytelling. In exchange for a new currency that told stories that the artists valued, participants told a story of what they valued. Participants could, in turn, exchange their bills for goods and services with local vendors whose stories the project shared via social media. Designed to offer a space for people to think together and out loud about common challenges, the project emerged amidst Puerto Rico’s austerity crisis, which has impoverished the population and unleashed the archipelago’s largest migration. Valor y Cambio then moved to New York City, where it continued to spark a broad conversation about what is a just economy, how to foster collective empowerment in the face of austerity, and what are the roles of art, narrative, and technology in the process of building more equitable economies.

This event is co-sponsored by MIT Comparative Media Studies and Writing (CMSW), Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) program at MIT, and MIT Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO).

Frances Negrón-Muntaner

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 and the Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities. 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). She has received various recognitions, including the United Nations’ Rapid Response Media Mechanism designation as a global expert in the areas of mass media and Latin/o American studies (2008); the Lenfest Award, (2012), the Latin American Studies Association’s Frank Bonilla Public Intellectual Award (2019), and the Premio Borimix from the Society for Educational Arts in New York (2019). Negrón-Muntaner served as director of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race from 2009-2016 and co-director of Unpayable Debt, a working group that studied debt regimes in the world. Her most recent films and art works include War for Guam (2015), Life Outside (2016), and Valor y Cambio, an art, digital storytelling and just economy project in Puerto Rico and New York (valorymcambio.org).

Katerina González Seligmann

Katerina González Seligmann is a scholar of Caribbean literature and intellectual history and the author of Writing the Caribbean in Magazine Time (Rutgers University Press, 2021). Katerina’s essays on literary magazines, literary infrastructure, and Caribbean textual and intellectual circulation also appear in MLNSmall Axe, South Atlantic QuarterlyThe Global SouthThe Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, and Inti. Katerina is also a member of the Aimé Césaire research group of the Francophone manuscripts team at the École normale supérieure in Paris and a translator of contemporary Cuban literature. González Seligmann is Associate Professor of Literatures, Cultures and Languages at the University of Connecticut Storrs and Director of El Instituto: Institute for Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies.