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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rebordering the Borderlands: Writing Violence, (Im)migration, and Surveillance

  • Author(s): Granado, Alma
  • Advisor(s): Saldívar, José David
  • et al.

This dissertation is a study on the topics of migration, power, and subjectivity in Chicana/o literature. Much critical cultural studies work which focuses on (im)migration in Chicana/o cultural texts has tended to portray it as an emancipatory project, and thus, has forgone a more complex understanding of this movement. I analyze Tomás Rivera's short stories, Arturo Islas's The Rain God, Salvador Plascencia's The People of Paper, and Helena Maria Viramontes's Their Dogs Came With Them to examine how these narratives depict migration not only in its physical and geographical dimensions, but also as a psychological, gendered, queered, often violent, ideological movement that is shaped by contradicting sources of power and material realities. I argue that these narratives embed the various aspects of this migration in their form, including through a migratory narrative structure, metafiction, skeptical fantasy, and editorial excision. Through the lens of women of color, queer, and political theories, I contend that this literature embodies the tension between transnational and global circuits of power on the one hand and the simultaneous reinforcement of sovereignty, territoriality, and the law on the other to reveal within these narratives moments of resistance and complicity in dominant ideologies like patriarchy, cultural nationalism, and limited expressions of citizenship. I contend that this literature necessarily reproduces this tension in fractured narrative forms that theorize power and lay bare how Chicana/o writers posit both literary and embodied protests to hegemonic formations of power.

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