Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Jinah Kim, Northwestern University and Amy Sarah Carroll, University of Michigan

Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar
Thursday, October 8, 2009

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

“Japanese American Internment and the Mexican Bracero Project at the Crossroads of WWII
Jinah Kim, Northwestern University

This article in process explores the links between two WW-II era projects - internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans and exploitative contract labor Mexican ‘bracero’ program - through the framing lens of ‘the third border’ or the policing of citizenship and belonging within national borders. In (re)constituting the links between these events I propose that a revision of American history - or a temporal map of American modernity – simultaneously demands a spatial re-mapping of the Americas. A map of third borders’ reveals how proximate the center of the nation – both physical center like the mid-west but also metaphorical center like the family – is to international borders, and how unsuccessful the border is in maintaining the strict line between white and other, citizen and immigrant. By imagining that the border constituted by the Pacific coast and line between the U.S. and Mexican territories can meet in Arizona and Chicago also fundamentally challenges Asian America and Latina/o studies east and west coast biases. Mapping and excavating third borders throughout U.S. history necessitates bringing together ethnic nationalist and post-colonialist theories destabilizing the nation as the agent of history and highlighting the constitutive role that immigrants and migration play in constructing modernity.

“ ‘La Maquila-Golondrina’: Feminine Details, Habitat Fragments, and the Documentary Performative
Amy Sara Carroll, University of Michigan

This paper opens and closes with references to contributions to the October 2008 show Proyecto Cívico Project at the Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT). Ingrid Hernández’s arresting image of an abandoned factory in Tijuana, La maquila-golondrina, sets the watch of the scene. “La maquila-golondrina,” a deceptively poetic phrase in Spanish, translates literally into the“factory-swallow” (as in swallow, the species of bird that migrates). Part of a larger book project (specifically, the third section of my manuscript, entitled “BORDER”), this paper concentrates on the intervention that Sergio De La Torre and Vicky Funari’s documentary Maquilapolis (2006) makes “toward a history of the vanishing present.” Somewhere in Maquilapolis’ thickening description, a young Mexican woman reflects on her struggles with unemployment, earmarking the beginning of an end—the years 2000-2001, the approximate eleventh hour when outsourcing to Tijuana began to be outsourced to Indonesia and elsewhere. Intelligible within a tradition of border art, which, as of late, has had to contend with the U.S.-Mexico border’s growing prominence and dissemination in Mexican, U.S., and global imaginaries, De La Torre and Vicky Funari’s film both chronicles claustrophobic elements of border culture, tagging environmental –isms like the performative sexualization and racialization of working Woman, and suggests possible escape valves of “cultural collaboration.” This paper learns from Maquilapolis even as it offers open-ended observations on neoliberalisms’ habitat-fragmenting habits, their aesthetic representations and the borders and circuits of periodization, to arrive at a closing analysis of Nuevo Dragon City (also included in the CECUT show), De La Torre’s most recent cinematic performance of the feminine details of abandon and racialized “temporary autonomous zones.”