Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: (Dis)locating Borderlands: Constructing Latino Cultures in American Spaces

Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar
Saturday, April 26, 2008

11:00 am to 3:00 pm

(Dis)locating Borderlands: Constructing Latino Cultures in American Spaces

Alexandra Mendoza, University of Minnesota at Twin Cities
“Motherhood in the Borderland: Adolescent Chicanas in the Decolonial Imaginary”
Chicana/o folklore is a site at which cultural values and gender roles are both produced and maintained and the parameters of acceptable social behavior are constructed. Feminine archetypes embodied by figures such as La Llorona, La Virgen de Guadalupe, and Malintzín are constructed along a moral binary that forces women into one of two categories: “virgin” or “whore.” By realizing their potential as reproductive bodies, adolescent Chicana mothers birth a third space between virgin and whore—what Gloria Anzaldúa calls a borderland space and Emma Peréz calls an interstitial space—outside of this moral binary. Carved out by their own flesh, this space represents a point of rupture for the archetypical narratives of female sexuality proscribed by Mexican/Chicano culture and provides a space for reimagination and liberation.

Susana Peña, Bowling Green State University
“Transgender Borderlands/Miami Borderlands: Documenting Early Cuban American Transgender Activists”
Gloria Anzaldúa highlighted the relationship between the geopolitical specificity of the U.S./Mexico border—with its history of migration, inequality, and violence—and the psychic borderlands of those who transgress normative social categories of race, gender, and sexuality. This paper asks whether Miami is a “borderlands”? While acknowledging important differences between Anzaldúa’s conceptualization and Miami, I argue that the intersectional examination of a geo-politically specific region, Latino/a groups, and borders between gender, racial, and class categories that Anzaldúa provides helps us further understand Miami. Also, I examine the borderlands between transgender male-to-female and gay male communities. I document early Latina transgender activists in 1970s Miami who participated in Transgender Action Organization (TAO). Drawing on the organization’s publications and Director Angela Douglas’ self-published autobiographies, I analyze the participation of Latinas in the organization. Through my analysis, I analyze the borders between Cuban American gay male and transgender communities.

Raúl Coronado, Jr., University of Chicago
“Seduction as Revolution: The Printing Press and Political Consciousness in Early 19th Century Texas”
In 1810 Texas was the northeastern extremity of New Spain and was still part of the Spanish empire. In that year, Father Miguel Hidalgo, leader of the Mexican movement for independence deputized José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara ambassador to the U.S. Gutiérrez de Lara traveled to the U.S. in the hope of gaining support for the independence of Spanish America. This paper explores the arrival of revolution and political modernity in Spanish Texas by turning to Gutiérrez de Lara’s travels and the revolutionary documents he circulated throughout Texas. The paper concludes by briefly discussing the relationship between these events and the history of US Latino subjectivities.