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Photo of LaMothe, Mario

Mario LaMothe, PhD

Assistant Professor

Adjunct Curator, Field Museum and Affiliated Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies

Anthropology, African-American Studies, and Diaspora Studies Cluster, Sociocultural


Building & Room:

BSB 2138A


1007 W. Harrison Street

CV Download:

Mario LaMothe CV


My research agenda involves embodied pedagogies of Afro-Caribbean religious rituals, and the intersections of spectatorship, queerness and social justice in Black Atlantic sites. These areas are crucial to my pedagogy of social change and curatorial practice. I couple scholarship with praxis to advance a dialogic engagement with the intellectual and cultural well being of people of African descent.

My book manuscript Vodou/Voodoo Bodies: Artistry, Memory, and Imagined Haitian Identities documents and analyses contemporary Haitian dance as an especially potent site for recuperative performances of blackness by Haitians, especially following the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake. A metonym for Black liberation, the country continues to be belittled as ruinously queer: a hellish “voodoo” place. Through ethnographic research, I investigate the ways in which Jean-René Delsoin, Roxane D’Orléans Juste, Kettly Noël and Jeanguy Saintus confront pre and post-disaster constructs of Haitianness, within a dialogic artist-presenter-spectator network in Haiti, the United States, Canada, Venezuela, and Mali. The social justice project situates how my interlocutors and their dancers leverage the aesthetics, philosophies and embodied techniques of the Africanist religion Vodou to simultaneously revive and destabilize spectators’ misconceptions about Haitians and their expressions of Blackness. Drawing from Vodou––a danced heritage–– enables Haitian choreographers to rehearse non-normative identities and rethink the strictures of human experiences.

Selected Publications


  • Special Issue “Nou Mache Ansanm (We Walk Together): Queer Haitian Performance and Affiliation.” With Dasha A. Chapman and Erin Durban-Albrecht. Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory 27.2, spring 2017.

Book Chapter:

  • “Manbo Ayizan on a New York Stage: or How Roxane D’Orléans Juste Danced Women’s Movement Intelligence.” Goddess in Every Woman, edited by Claudine Michel and Patrick Bellegarde-Smith. Under contract with Palgrave McMillan.
  • “The United States of Lucia: Three Generations of Haitian-Americans Reconfigure Ancestry, Home and Host Lands through Storytelling.” The Routledge Companion to African American Theatre and Performance (CAATP), edited by Kathy A. Perkins, Sandra L. Richards, Renée Alexander Craft, and Thomas F. DeFrantz. Forthcoming, 2018.
  • “Witnessing Queer Flights:
Josué Azor’s Photo-Documentary of Lougawou Images in the Contemporary Era of Anti-Homosexual Unrest in Haiti.” Time Signatures: Race and Performance after Repetition, edited by Soyica Colbert, Douglas Jones, and Shane Vogel. Forthcoming, Duke University Press, 2018-19.

Journal and Public Humanities Articles:

  • “Our Love on Fire: Gay Men’s Stories of Violence and Hope in Haiti.” Special Issue “Nou Mache Ansanm (We Walk Together): Queer Haitian Performance and Affiliation. Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory 27.2, spring 2017.
  • “Dedouble and Jeanguy Saintus’ Corporeal Gifts.” e-misférica 11.2, spring 2015.

Health Communication:

  • Associate Researcher. PSI Research and Metrics. “2014 Integrated Behavioral and Biological Survey (IBBS) with Female Commercial Sex Workers and Men who Have Sex with Men.” Summary Reports (2014, 2015). Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), German bank KFW and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Péguy-Ville, Haiti.
  • Associate Researcher. PSI Research and Metrics. “HIV Prevalence and Condom Use Among Men who Have Sex with Men.” Summary TRaC Report (2012). Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), German bank KFW and the United Nations Development Programme. Pétion-Ville, Haiti.

Service to Community

Centre et Compagnie de Danse Jean-René Delsoin/Haiti, Artistic Consultant (2006 – Present)

Ayikodans/Haiti, Artistic Consultant (2013 – Present)

Howard Brown Health Center/Chicago, IL, Community Advisory Board (2016 – Present)

UIC PASEO, School of Public Health, Community Advisory Board (2017 – Present)

Professional Leadership

Standing Committee on Conferences (2017-Present), Dance Studies Association

Board Member Elect (2018-Present), Haitian Studies Association

Notable Honors

2020, Award for Creative Activity for "Lot Bò Dlo: Visualizing the Mistreatment of Haitians in US Detention Centers", University of Illinois at Chicago

2008-2010, Graduate Exchange Fellowship, Institut d’Études Politiques (Paris, France)

2008, The Lilla A. Heston Memorial Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement, Northwestern University's School of Communication


Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2015. Performance Studies
M.F.A., Brooklyn College (CUNY), 1999. Performing Arts Management
Certificate, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, 1994. Dance
B.A., Boston College, 1992. Theater Arts and French Studies

Professional Memberships

American Society for Theatre Research

American Studies Association

Association for Theatre in Higher Education

Caribbean Studies Association

The Collegium for African Diaspora Dance

Dance Studies Association

Haitian Studies Association

National Communication Association

SLIPPAGE: Performance/Culture/Technology

Research Currently in Progress

My burgeoning project Bodily Rites/Performance Rightsjuxtaposes oral history with Africanist dramatic conventions as pedagogical methods that not only create dialogues between ethnographic subjects and readers or performers but also enable wide circulation of knowledge about misunderstood lifeworlds. Gender and sexually liberated men and women narrate their experiences of spirit possession, tolerance, and discrimination in Haitian Vodou spaces and interrelated African diaspora religious enclaves in the Caribbean. A pedagogical tool to assess critical intersections of Black embodiment and aesthetics, Bodily Rites/Performance Rightsaims to chronicle how divinely guided bodies navigate places of worship as they seek not only to critique social relations but also to transform them.

Artistic and Professional Performances and Exhibits

2018 & 2016:Afro-Feminist Performance Routes: An Embodied Dialogue, Duke University, April 2016 and February 2018.

2018: ‘Sanctified’ I & II.  University of Illinois at Chicago, African-American Cultural Center, fall 2018. Two distinct yet complimentary exhibits increase public knowledge of Haitian-American author, perfomer and gay rights activist Assotto Saint (b. Yves Francis Lubin). They also introduce visitors to news way of thinking about African diaspora religions.

2016 – 2017:A Year of Remedies. University of Illinois at Chicago, African-American Cultural Center. A year-round series featuring visual arts exhibits, film and digital series screening, community workshops, a dance performance and a symposium.

2016: Butarewegoodnow. Movement improvisation choreography, Columbia College dancers. Assistant to choreographer Thomas DeFrantz. Columbia College, Chicago, IL, October 2016.

2015: A Choreography of Contagion: Absence and Presence of Black Bodies in Health Visual Culture.University of Illinois at Chicago, African-American Cultural Center, fall 2015.

2015: Noctambules: Queer Nightlife in Haiti.Photographic series co-curated with Dasha A. Chapman. Duke University, 2015 - 2016.

2015 – Present: Our Love on Fire: Gay Men’s Stories of Hope and Violence in Haiti.Performative presentation with post-presentation dialogue, Duke University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois State University, Loyola University of Chicago, Haitian Studies Association Conference (2015), Caribbean Studies Association Conference (2016).

2016:  theory-ography 4.5-a we [still] queer here.SLIPPAGE: Performance |Culture| Technology. Founder and Director: Thomas DeFrantz; Project Dramaturg and Moderator: Clare Croft; Feminist Theory Workshop, Duke University, March 4, 2015.