Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: doi:10.22028/D291-30203
Title: Running hand in hand : the librotraficantes mapping cultural resistance in the US Mexico borderlands
Author(s): Massey, Claire M
Language: English
Year of Publication: 2019
SWD key words: chicanos
El Paso
San Antonio
Free key words: chicanx
nuestra palabra
librotraficante movement
librotraficante caravan
US Mexico borderlands
chicano movement
chicano literature
DDC notations: 340 Law
370 Education
800 Literature, rhetoric and criticism
810 American literature in English
890 Other literatures
970 History of North America
Publikation type: Dissertation
Abstract: In January 2012, a groundbreaking K-12 Mexican American Studies [MAS] program in Tucson was dismantled by the State. The program had been implemented in the late 1990s to help reverse negative educational and socioeconomic trends within local Chicanx communities. The MAS curriculum had questioned prevailing national identity discourse, countering majoritarian myths of the founding and the functioning of the United States. Despite validated evidence of the program’s successful learning outcomes, it was ruled anti-American and seditious by a right-wing conservative legislature, and subsequently found to contravene state law. The books of the program’s bibliography were removed from the classrooms, these included texts considered a critical part of the canon of Chicanx, African American, and Native American literature. The news of the State’s dismantling of the MAS program resonated with Chicanx community groups across the Southwest, communities long embattled by the outcomes of majoritarian politicking and definitions of justice. One such group, Houston-based Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say [NP], decided to act. NP’s strategy was to return books from the removed MAS bibliography to the program’s students. To do so, the group applied a critical understanding of the racialized criminalization of their communities to then fourteen years of counter/storytelling organizing. Hereby, the Librotraficante Movement was born. In praxis, a group of thirty-eight “book smugglers” who, over a period of five days in March 2012, took a caravan of texts to Tucson, engaging on route with community sites in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. My project utilizes the caravan’s route as a framework to investigate Chicanx resistance in the contested US Mexico borderlands. I pay particular attention to Texas. Annexed in 1845 by the White Supremacist urges of Manifest Destiny, and bordered in 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo saw Mexico stripped of fifty-percent of its territory, Texas has long been on the frontline of the making of the United States. This “making” brought about not only much of the geopolitical space of the nation, but the racialization of those who now found themselves, in the words of Mexican General José Mariano Salas in 1856, “strangers in their own land” (qtd. in Griswold del Castillo 1990, 3). Post-Hidalgo, said “strangers” were disenfranchised by settler-colonialism. They were surveilled and brutalized by the Texas Rangers, and from 1924 by the US Border Patrol whose praxis at that time, as Kelly Lytle Hernández argues, “was a matter of community, manhood, whiteness, authority, class, respect, belonging, brotherhood, and violence in the greater Texas-Mexico borderlands” (2010, 41). Little has changed. Yet, in this often-visceral contested space, Mexican heritage communities continue to struggle and thrive. The Librotraficante caravan’s Texas journey maps myriad resistance to historical and contemporary trauma as it “operates”, in Ofelia Garcia and Camila Leiva’s words, “within a dynamic network of cultural transformation” (2014, 203). This dissertation brings to light a legacy of Chicanx cultural resilience that troubles US-centric narrative constructions of identity and belonging. My work is located at the intersections of Cultural, Chicanx, Borderlands, American, Literary, and Ethnic Studies, and the Political and Social Sciences. It is at these intersections that sites in my four case-study cities (Tucson, Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso) operate in response to, and despite, historical and contemporary oppressions. Said oppressions take the shape of, but are not limited to, epistemological colonization, NAFTA, gentrification, right-wing politicking, border militarization, anti-immigrant discourse, and the persistent marking of brown bodies as “illegal”. My goal is to elevate the historical, cultural, political, and literary consciousness produced by the resistance organizing of the sites. This, I argue, is a consciousness that arises from within the community’s collective experiences.
Link to this record: urn:nbn:de:bsz:291--ds-302034
Advisor: Fellner, Astrid
Date of oral examination: 30-Jan-2020
Date of registration: 19-Feb-2020
Faculty: P - Philosophische Fakultät
Department: P - Anglistik, Amerikanistik und Anglophone Kulturen
Professorship: P - Prof. Dr. Astrid M. Fellner
Collections:SciDok - Der Wissenschaftsserver der Universität des Saarlandes

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