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Lowrider Space

Aesthetics and Politics of Mexican American Custom Cars

By Ben Chappell

Publication Year: 2012

The first ethnographic book devoted to lowrider custom car culture puts a new spin on an aesthetic and mechanical achievement through which Mexican Americans alter the urban landscape and make a place for themselves in an often segregated society.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-xi

First and foremost, this book would not exist without the generosity of the lowriders of Austin, Texas. Names are concealed here to protect the innocent and the guilty alike, but if you are reading this and remember me hanging around . . .

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pp. 1-30

“Come on, Ben, you can ride with me.” Taking Eddie up on the invitation, I followed him through the crowded, sprawling parking lot. It was around midnight on a summer weekend in Austin, Texas, and the lot we stood in, off . . .

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1. Cruising Spaces

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pp. 31-63

I sat with members of the Custom Kings lowrider car club in Long John Silver’s, eating after the weekly club meeting at a car wash. It was February, and I was surprised when the discussion turned to plans for cruising later that night, . . .

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2. Inside Out: The Ambivalent Aesthetics of Lowrider Interiors

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pp. 64-100

Lowriding as a version of Mexican American identity became possible when Mexican Americans joined the U.S. car culture, a convergence of two developments: on one hand, the rise of Mexican Americans as a consumer market, and

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3. Auto Bodies

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pp. 101-135

In the process of being customized and used in everyday cruising, a lowrider car becomes an extension and enlargement of the human body (Cintron 1997; Graves-Brown 2000; Sheller and Urry 2000). This aspect of lowrider poetics, . . .

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4. Work: The Producer as Author

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pp. 136-167

I arrive at a garage on the outskirts of East Austin in the hours between close of business and dusk. Smiley passes me on the way to the sink. “Hey Ben! I’d shake your hand, but . . .” He holds up both palms, which are black with grease. . . .

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5. Neither Gangsters nor Santitos

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pp. 168-200

At two o’clock one July morning in 1998, the owner of a punk rock club on Sixth Street and her boyfriend were walking to her Chevy Suburban in downtown Austin. According to newspaper coverage of the trial that followed, the two saw . . .

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pp. 201-206

One of the fi rst lowriders I saw in person was a van that I later learned belonged to Chris, and it was covered on all surfaces with wild-style graffi ti, rolling on the classic lowrider spoke rims that he would later put on his Skylark. It was . . .


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pp. Image 1-Image 8

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pp. 207-216

1. A small but steady stream of research produced since the 1970s makes up the lowrider literature. Before her untimely death, the foremost ethnographer of lowriding was Brenda Jo Bright, who published several essays in addition to her MA thesis and dissertation (Bright . . .

Reference List

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pp. 217-234


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pp. 235-239

E-ISBN-13: 9780292737877
E-ISBN-10: 0292737874
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292737860
Print-ISBN-10: 0292737866

Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 794672965
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Lowrider Space

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Lowriders -- Social aspects.
  • Mexican Americans -- Social life and customs.
  • Automobiles -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Automobiles -- Societies, etc. -- Social aspects.
  • Popular culture -- United States.
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