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Processes of Spatialization in the Americas

Configurations and Narratives

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Edited By Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez and Hannes Warnecke-Berger

Where do the Americas begin, and where do they end? What is the relationship between the spatial constructions of «area» and «continent»? How were the Americas imagined by different actors in different historical periods, and how were these imaginations – as continent, nation, region – guided by changing agendas and priorities? This interdisciplinary volume addresses competing and conflicting configurations and narratives of spatialization in the context of globalization processes from the 19th century to the present.

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Contestation, Hybridization, Criminalization: US-Mexican Borderland Vistas

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Abstract: Ever since the end of the United States’ war against Mexico in 1848, the territories along the border between the two nations have been a vibrant, but also a turbulent intercultural space. This chapter examines some discursive and medial constructions of spaces north of the US-Mexican border over the last century and a half. It identifies contestation, hybridization, and criminalization as the three main approaches. Oppositional discourses dominate Mexican American conceptualizations of this space from the folk corridos of the 19th century to present-day claims that “We did not cross the border. The border crossed us.” In this respect the chapter addresses various literary texts of the 19th and 20th century as well as Rodolfo F. Acuña’s revisionist Occupied America: A History of Chicanos (8th ed., 2014). As to hybridization discourses, I focus on the border image created in John Sayles’ 1996 film Lone Star. A third approach designates this border region a lawless space in need of state intervention. This spatialization started with 1850s reports on the perils of the Santa Fe Trail and it has been propagated since 2015 by the current US president. Social and political practice as well as discourses in literature, media, academia, and political rhetoric have unsettled this border space with their competing characterizations and agendas.

Ever since the end of the United States’ war against Mexico in 1848, the territories along the border between the two nations have been a vibrant, but also a turbulent intercultural and...

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