Taking up the perception of the U.S.-Mexico border region as a transnational social, cultural, and geographic space, the essays of this volume address transnational cultures of the borderlands from multiple perspectives, exploring cultural articulations from the entire border area as well as the complexity and intersectionality of ethnic, national, and class identities in the region.
The New Mexican territory, an area added to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) and the Gadsden Purchase (1853) following the U.S.-Mexico War, was largely Mexican and Amerindian in population, customs, and beliefs in the second half of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, it witnessed a growing influx of Anglo U.S.-American settlers and their culture, especially after the American Civil War of 1861–1865. Narrating the story of the first Catholic archbishop of New Mexico and his vicar general, Willa Cather’s historical novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) provides a complex portrayal of the Mexican, Amerindian, Anglo-American, and European cultures in the U.S.-Mexico border region from the 1850s through the 1880s.
In her article, Marrietta Messmer discusses the representation of the Juárez femicides and their traumatizing effects on the Juárez/El Paso community in four recently published accounts: Teresa Rodriguez’s journalistic account The Daughters of Juarez (2007), the documentary Señorita Extraviada (2001) directed by Lourdes Portillo, the feature film Bordertown (2006), directed by Gregory Nava, and Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s mystery novel Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders (2005). More specifically, she analyzes the degree to which these sources regard the femicides not merely as a Mexican problem but as a structural and highly significant transborder issue that has its roots in the region’s current political and economic developments, as well as its pervasive social and cultural changes.
Norma Iglesias-Prieto’s article is based on the films Wacha el border, created by twelve children from Tijuana, and Beyond the Border, created by ten children from San Diego. It aims at understanding the extent to which the U.S.-Mexico border is significant in children’s social representations of themselves and others. Focusing on the Tijuana/San Diego transboundary urbanized region, Iglesias-Prieto questions traditional representations and perceptions of the border.
This essay explores Richard Lou’s distinguished career as an artist, from his early work in San Diego/Tijuana in the 1980s to his current installation and performance pieces on topics such as hybrid identities, counter-storytelling, nationalism, and cultures of oppression. The diversity of his themes, coupled with the multiplicity of the artistic media he utilizes, points to the decisively unstable and overlapping identities he possesses as an artist yet firmly establishes the decolonizing and politically transformative mission of his oeuvre.
The U.S. Border Patrol efforts to stop illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States are manifold. In recent times, the U.S. Border Patrol has begun employing so-called corridos, or Mexican ballads, as a means of covert propaganda to slow down illegal immigration. In her article, María Herrera-Sobek discusses the appropriation of the corrido genre by the U.S. Border Control and analyzes the corridos from the point of view of extra-literary adaptations.
The following interview with Rolando Hinojosa was conducted by Josef Raab at Schloss Seggau, Austria, on July 29, 2010. Hinojosa was teaching in the Inter-American Summer School of the University of Graz at the time. Having been categorized as a postmodern writer, an ethnic writer, a local-color or regionalist writer, etc., Rolando Hinojosa illustrates the influence of his ‘native country’ the Lower Rio Grande Valley, on his work in the interview.