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The Border Crossed Us

Rhetorics of Borders, Citizenship, and Latina/o Identity

Josue David Cisneros

Publication Year: 2014

The Border Crossed Us explores efforts to restrict and expand notions of US citizenship as they relate specifically to the US-Mexico border and Latina/o identity.

Borders and citizenship go hand in hand. Borders define a nation as a territorial entity and create the parameters for national belonging. But the relationship between borders and citizenship breeds perpetual anxiety over the purported sanctity of the border, the security of a nation, and the integrity of civic identity.

In The Border Crossed Us, Josue David Cisneros addresses these themes as they relate to the US-Mexico border, arguing that issues ranging from the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848 to contemporary debates about Latina/o immigration and border security are negotiated rhetorically through public discourse. He explores these rhetorical battles through case studies of specific Latina/o struggles for civil rights and citizenship, including debates about Mexican American citizenship in the 1849 California Constitutional Convention, 1960s Chicana/o civil rights movements, and modern-day immigrant activism.

Cisneros posits that borders—both geographic and civic—have crossed and recrossed Latina/o communities throughout history (the book’s title derives from the popular activist chant, “We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us!”) and that Latina/os in the United States have long contributed to, struggled with, and sought to cross or challenge the borders of belonging, including race, culture, language, and gender.

The Border Crossed Us illuminates the enduring significance and evolution of US borders and citizenship, and provides programmatic and theoretical suggestions for the continued study of these critical issues.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

Usually, the preface of a monograph such as this recounts the origins of the work, from its germination to completion. With this expectation in mind, when I sat down to write this preface, I tried to pinpoint the catalyst that gave rise to this project and with which I could begin such a narrative. Thinking about the genesis of this book, I...

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pp. xiii-xviii

It would be impossible for me to acknowledge in this limited space all those to whom I am indebted for helping to bring this project to fruition. This book is truly the labor of a multitude of colleagues, friends, professionals, and loved ones who guided, supported, encouraged, and inspired me over the last several years. However, here...

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Introduction: On Border Crossing and the Crossing Border

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pp. 1-18

The “problem” of the U.S.-Mexico border and of the borders of U.S. identity seems to grow ever larger in the political debate and public discourse of the United States. This is reflected in more and more instances of anxiety over the sanctity of the border (or lack thereof ), increasing efforts to shore up border security, and greater contestation...

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Negotiating the Border: Race, Coloniality, and Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century California

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pp. 19-52

The signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, marked the formal end to a two-year war between the United States and Mexico. This war is known in the United States as the Mexican-American War (which connotes a fair war among equals justly won) and by some in Mexico as la intervención norteamericana...

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Inhabiting the Border: Radical Rhetoric and Social Movement in 1960s New Mexico

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pp. 53-82

The Alianza Federal de Mercedes (Federal Alliance of Land Grants) was organized in 1963 to lobby for the return of Mexican and Spanish land grants to their original heirs (the same land grants guaranteed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo), but by 1967 its mission and influence had expanded and its tactics had become more confrontational...

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Rebordering the Nation: Hybrid Rhetoric in the Immigrant Marches of 2006

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pp. 83-108

Between March and May of 2006, several million people, mostly documented and undocumented immigrants, engaged in organized protests of proposed federal immigration legislation in cities throughout the country. In Chicago, for example, one hundred thousand people marched, while in Washington, DC, forty thousand protestors...

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Beyond Borders? : Citizenship and Contemporary Latina/o and Immigrant Social Movements

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pp. 109-140

I stood in Copley Square in Boston on Saturday, July 10, 2010, on a stunningly bright summer morning. Lining the cement path that ran along the small, grassy park were a number of small folding tables featuring an assortment of buttons, books, pamphlets, and newspapers from various activist organizations. Meanwhile, a makeshift...

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Conclusion: Denaturalizing Borders and Citizenship

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pp. 141-164

It has become quite commonplace for scholars and social commentators to begin their work on Latina/os in the United States by remarking on the growth of the Latina/o population, on the relative youth of the Latina/o community, and on its increasing political mobilization. These studies regularly point out that Latina/os (or...


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pp. 165-198


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pp. 199-222


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pp. 223-229

E-ISBN-13: 9780817387235
E-ISBN-10: 0817387234
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817318123
Print-ISBN-10: 0817318127

Page Count: 247
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: Revised

OCLC Number: 874179900
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Border Crossed Us

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Citizenship -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Mexican-American Border Region -- Emigration and immigration.
  • Mexican-American Border Region -- Ethnic relations -- History.
  • Mexican Americans -- Civil rights -- History.
  • Mexican Americans -- Ethnic identity.
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