José Eduardo Valdivia Heredia (they/elle) is a Ph.D. Student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, where they are a recipient of the Chancellor’s Fellowship. They are a queer Chicane artist and scholar from Sonoma, California. José received a B.A. in Religion and Latin American/Latino Studies from Swarthmore College (2023), where they co-founded Crossings: Swarthmore Undergraduate Feminist Research Journal. Their undergraduate thesis explored notions of nationalism, “high” art, and popular entertainment in La Más Draga, a Mexican drag reality competition.
At UC Berkeley, José’s research looks at the intersection of aesthetics, religion, and self-mutilation in the Americas, centering on the practices of Black and Latina/e women and queer femmes. They interrogate the racialized/sexed body through the framework of “beautiful suffering,” which asks, how do women and femme practitioners—across place/space, time, and tradition—create a sense of agency and belonging via the aesthetic production of (sacred) pain? At the intersection of psychology, philosophy, and spirituality, this project fleshes out questions of ethical suffering, radical intimacy, and sacred erotics in forms as diverse as colonial mortification of the flesh, Latin American/Latine performance art, and BDSM/kink sex practices.