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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Another Los Angeles: Chicana/o and Latina/o Counter-Mappings in Literature, Visual Art and Film, 1965-2015

  • Author(s): Perez, Crystal Roxana Ramirez
  • Advisor(s): Sanchez, Rosaura
  • et al.
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This dissertation deploys an interdisciplinary framework that draws from literary studies, history, and critical human geography to critically examine counter-mapping acts in L.A. from 1965 to 2015, specifically those that shed light on the social and material conditions of Latinas/os. “Another Los Angeles” traces the counter-mapping practices of Chicana/o Latina/o communities as seen in fiction, visual art, and film. Counter-mapping as an oppositional practice reflects a non-dominant view of space and asserts subaltern histories and memories, challenging dominant discourses that render them invisible. In the first chapter, I analyze historical detective fiction by black and brown authors and argue that their novelistic return to the 1965-71 period remembers the long-standing issue of policing in the segregated ghetto and barrio and the flourishing of social justice movements of that era that were responding to inequitable policing and other injustices. In chapter two, I examine Hector Tobar’s 1998 novel, The Tattooed Soldier and its interwoven narrative structure to highlight the co-constitutive relationship between Central American spaces and the making of Los Angeles in the 1980s and 90s as produced by neoliberal policies in the hemispheric Americas. In the last two chapters I shift focus to the visual and sonic to explore the simultaneous invisibility and hypervisibility of the raced, classed, and gendered Latina/o body in urban space. In chapter 3, I trace the tradition of Chicana/o public art from the 1960s to the 21st century as a conceptually and politically useful medium for L.A. Chicana/o artists to reflect an ethos of urban vulnerability and enact critical spatializing practices. In the last chapter, I examine the Hollywood film, A Better Life, as a bricolage of visual and sound parts of L.A. communities of color that portray a “third space” reflective of and created by immigrants’ cultural, sonic, and spatial practices. Ultimately, “Another Los Angeles” privileges the counter-mapping practices of Los Angeles’ brown, black, and immigrant populations as they ascertain their vantage points in a city that while vastly present in the national imaginary, often forgets or flattens the spaces of communities of color.

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This item is under embargo until December 19, 2020.