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Indocumentados en tr�nsito: Representaciones contempor�neas de precariedad, muerte y resistencia

  • Author(s): Monroe, Maria Teresa
  • Advisor(s): van Delden, Maarten H
  • et al.

The 1990s marked a turning point in the context of the U.S-Mexico border. Even though the militarization was just beginning to materialize along the urban areas with the purpose of securing the United States southern border from unwanted immigration and narcotics traffickers, the image of a war zone and fear was also emerging in the imaginary of its citizens. Most notably, the military strategies implemented to deter undocumented migrants had arduous consequences in the lives of those still attempting to cross. This study examines non-fictional narratives such as literary journalism, testimony, personal essay and the Spanish cr�nica that document the journeys of Mexican and Central American migrants making their way to the United States after the systematic intensification of U.S-Mexico border security. Known as the “funnel effect” of border enforcement, undocumented migrants were pushed to take more isolated and dangerous routes such as the desert terrains in Arizona and Texas where peak temperatures have taken thousands of lives of those attempting to cross. For Central American migrants crossing through Mexico, the dangers are multiplied. Each year, tens of thousands are victims of human rights violations, including abuse, extortion, kidnapping, sexual assault, and death. In my dissertation, I argue that the authors in this study offer a political and literary agenda that moves away from the negative framework associated with the “illegal” migrant portrayed in mainstream media in order to inform a disengaged reader—the imagined addressee. The migrant journey stories herein reveal the ‘real--lived experiences’ of human suffering, death but also resistance to get to their destination where in many cases, families, relatives and/or friends wait for them. Crafted with humanistic intentions, their alternative discourse attempts to bridge the experiences of the “other” and the reader by employing certain narrative strategies associated with non-fiction and the thematic of crisis. In that sense, the literary representations are imagined to compel and instigate empathy and model a social and responsible action to their readership. I maintain that though conceived with good intentions, some of the authors’ narratives discussed herein offer problematic representations, where the reader might feel distanced or disengaged from the “other” subject, preventing the engagement with a hypothetical solution.

This study addresses how literary production might influence the process of human rights claims in the subject of contemporary undocumented migration. With its theoretical origins rooted in non-fiction scholarship, my dissertation contributes to the study of another creative platform to bring awareness of human rights abuses to the disengaged reader and potentially impact political and social discourse.

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