The Newberry Library Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar, November 2, 2012: Margie Brown-Coronel, Deborah Cohen, Lessie Frazier, and Rebecca Schreiber

Margie Brown-Coronel, Independent Scholar; Deborah Cohen, University of Missouri-St. Louis; Lessie Frazier, Indiana University; and Rebecca Schreiber, University of New Mexico

Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar
Friday, November 2, 2012

3 to 5 pm


“Claiming Californio Memories: The Politics of Cultural Legacies in Southern California”
Margie Brown-Coronel, Independent Scholar

Through a focused study on the del Valle family, this paper explores how Californio families utilized emerging popular notions of Southern California’s regional identity as a strategy to secure their long-standing cultural legacy and authority. Complicating existing historical works on California’s Spanish fantasy past that attribute the power of memory making, propagating, and consuming to Anglo American boosters, preservationists, and residents, I analyze the family’s role in two cultural productions of California’s Spanish fantasy past: the commercialization of the novel Ramona and the Mission Play and show how particular forms of preserving the family’s past intersected with the popular depictions of the region. I assert that the family utilized this intersection as a strategy that secured their privilege and authority to be both makers and consumers of California memories.

“Political Ecologies of Borderlands Banditry: The West and the Nation in 1940s Zorro Films”
Deborah Cohen, University of Missouri-St. Louis and Lessie Frazier, Indiana University

Our paper uses two 1940s filmic treatments of Zorro—The Black Whip (1944) and El Zorro de Jalisco (1941)—as a lens onto popular understandings of political ecologies of “borderlands” and “the West.” Concern about sovereignty and justice—framed as social banditry—is displayed in struggles over land use and ownership, mineral wealth, labor, and the role of states vis-à-vis the poor. We argue that these films reveal the impact of a settler colonialist ideology in framing World War 2’s battle between fascism and democracy, and the primacy of the frontier as a space for working out this struggle. In analyzing frontier depictions, we see the political ecology of settler colonialism in the ways that the U.S. and Mexican national projects contended with it and reconfigured the possibilities of political subjectivity in their different imaginaries of borderlands and the West.

“Visible Frictions: Documentary and Self-Representation in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”
Rebecca Schreiber, University of New Mexico

This paper focuses on “The Border Film Project” (2007), a documentary photography project published in book form that attempts to represent “both sides” of the contemporary immigration debate “equally.” The book addresses contemporary conflicts over U.S. immigration policy, and contains photographs taken by Mexican and Central American migrants as well as by members of the Minuteman Project. In this paper I analyze the book producers’ strategy of “self representation” as a means to make these two groups “visible,” as well as their construction of an equivalence between migrants and Minutemen.

Commentator: Gilberto Rosas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

See website for additional details.

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