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California Imaginada Poéticas de emergencia y arte fronterizomático en la frontera Tijuana/San Diego


This dissertation, examines how rhizomatic cultural production in late twentieth-century Tijuana-San Diego responded to processes of deterritorialization from the two nations that struggled to consolidate their shared border. It investigates how the region’s Mexican, Mexican-American and Chicano writers and artists from the 1950s to the 1990s constructed their aesthetic projects and social subjectivities by engaging multidirectional nationalistic forces from both sides of the border. Specifically, this community spread aesthetic and discursive rhizomes in a line of flight from a post-revolutionary centralist Mexico and across a settler-colonialist United States that had increasingly criminalized immigration. In the process, these artists and writers engaged countercultural movements; so doing, I conclude, they nurtured the artistic and political ties required to resist state violence at and across the U.S.-Mexico border.

My chapters focus on art and literature produced by these artists, but also concerns the politics that shaped the region’s culture-producing landscapes and institutions. The first chapter traces a move away from early twentieth century perception of the borderlands as dominated by cultural emptiness. As the chapter shows, Fernando Jordán’s El otro México; biografía de la Baja California (1951) counters this belief as he shapes an early approach of Baja California as an alter-nation. The second chapter probes the region’s emergency poetics from the first know poetic text produced in and about California in 1740s to the early 1980s. The third chapter analyzes visual art production from the 1950s to the 90s as a fronterhizomatic art practice particular to the border shaped by institutional processes of modernization. The forth chapter restages the vertiginous theoretical shift in the 1990’s from postmodernism to necropolitics. Ultimately, this project represents an alternative history of the Tijuana-San Diego border region. It attends to nationalist arborescent politics at both sides of the border but digs deeper to confirm the artistic rhizomes that continue to flourish across the divided land.

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