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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Hispanic American Studies

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The Border Crossed Us Cover

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The Border Crossed Us

Rhetorics of Borders, Citizenship, and Latina/o Identity

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.

Border Renaissance Cover

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Border Renaissance

The Texas Centennial and the Emergence of Mexican American Literature

By John Morán González

A watershed revision in the history of Mexican American literature and culture, revealing the crucial role played by the Texas Centennial of 1936 in crystallizing a new, politicized ethnic identity.

Border Rhetorics Cover

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Border Rhetorics

Citizenship and Identity on the US-Mexico Frontier

Edited by D. Robert DeChaine

Border Rhetorics is a collection of essays that undertakes a wide-ranging examination of the US-Mexico border as it functions in the rhetorical production of civic unity in the United States.

A “border” is a powerful and versatile concept, variously invoked as the delineation of geographical territories, as a judicial marker of citizenship, and as an ideological trope for defining inclusion and exclusion. It has implications for both the empowerment and subjugation of any given populace. Both real and imagined, the border separates a zone of physical and symbolic exchange whose geographical, political, economic, and cultural interactions bear profoundly on popular understandings and experiences of citizenship and identity. 

The border’s rhetorical significance is nowhere more apparent, nor its effects more concentrated, than on the frontier between the United States and Mexico. Often understood as an unruly boundary in dire need of containment from the ravages of criminals, illegal aliens, and other undesirable threats to the national body, this geopolitical locus exemplifies how normative constructions of “proper” border relations reinforce definitions of US citizenship, which in turn can lead to anxiety, unrest, and violence centered around the struggle to define what it means to be a member of a national political community.  


Contributors
Bernadette Marie Calafell / Karma R. Chávez / Josue David Cisneros / D. Robert DeChaine / Anne Teresa Demo / Lisa A. Flores / Dustin Bradley Goltz / Marouf Hasian Jr. / Michelle A. Holling / Julia R. Johnson / Zach Justus / Diane M. Keeling / John Louis Lucaites / George F. McHendry Jr. / Toby Miller / Kent A. Ono / Brian L. Ott / Kimberlee Pérez / Mary Ann Villarreal

The Borderlands of Race Cover

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The Borderlands of Race

Mexican Segregation in a South Texas Town

By Jennifer Najera

Using oral histories and local archives, this historical ethnography analyzes how and why Mexican American individuals unevenly experienced racial dominance and segregation in South Texas.

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Borderlands Saints

Secular Sanctity in Chicano/a and Mexican Culture

by Desirée A. Martín

In Borderlands Saints, Desirée A. Martín examines the rise and fall of popular saints and saint-like figures in the borderlands of the United States and Mexico. Focusing specifically on Teresa Urrea (La Santa de Cabora), Pancho Villa, César Chávez, Subcomandante Marcos, and Santa Muerte, she traces the intersections of these figures, their devotees, artistic representations, and dominant institutions with an eye for the ways in which such unofficial saints mirror traditional spiritual practices and serve specific cultural needs.Popular spirituality of this kind engages the use and exchange of relics, faith healing, pilgrimages, and spirit possession, exemplifying the contradictions between high and popular culture, human and divine, and secular and sacred. Martín focuses upon a wide range of Mexican and Chicano/a cultural works drawn from the nineteenth century to the present, covering such diverse genres as the novel, the communiqué, drama, the essay or crónica, film, and contemporary digital media. She argues that spiritual practice is often represented as narrative, while narrative—whether literary, historical, visual, or oral—may modify or even function as devotional practice.

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Borderless Borders

Frank Bonilla

This new reality -- the Latinization of the United States -- is driven by forces that reach well beyond U.S. borders. It asserts itself demographically, politically, in the workplace, and in daily life. The perception that Latinos are now positioned to help bring about change in the Americas from within the United States has taken hold, sparking renewed interest and specific initiatives by hemispheric governments to cultivate new forms of relationships with emigrant communities.

Borderless Borders describes the structural processes and active interventions taking place inside and outside U.S. Latino communities. After a context-setting introduction by urban planner Rebecca Morales, the contributors focus on four themes.  Economist Manuel Pastor Jr., urban sociologist Saskia Sassen, and political scientist Carol Wise look at emerging forms of global and transnational interdependence and at whether they are likely to produce individuals who are economically independent or simply more dependent. Sociologist Jorge Chapa, social anthropologist Maria P. Fernandez Kelly, and economist Edwin Melendez examine the negative impact of economic and political restructuring within the United States,especially within Latino communities. Performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Pena, legal scholar Gerald Torres, political scientist Maria de los Angeles Torres, and modern language specialist Silvio Torres-Saillant consider the implications -- for community formation, citizenship, political participation, and human rights -- of the fact that individuals are forced to construct identities for themselves in more than one sociopolitical setting. Finally, sociologist Jeremy Brecher, sociologist Frank Bonilla, and political scientist Pedro Caban speculate on new paths into international relations and issue-oriented social movements and organizations among these mobile populations. To supplement the written contributions, Painter Bibiana Suarez has chosen several artworks that contribute to the interdisciplinary scope of the book.

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Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation

Drug Trafficking and the Law in Central America

Julie Marie Bunck

Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation is the first account ever published of drug trafficking through Central America and the efforts of law enforcement to counter it. Julie Bunck and Michael Fowler detail the routes, methods, and networks involved, while comparing the evolution of the drug trade in Belize, Coast Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama over a span of more than three decades.

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Bringing Aztlan to Mexican Chicago

My Life, My Work, My Art

Jose Gamaliel Gonzalez

Bringing Aztlan to Mexican Chicago is the autobiography of Jose Gamaliel Gonzalez, an impassioned artist willing to risk all for the empowerment of his marginalized and oppressed community. Through recollections emerging in a series of interviews conducted over a period of six years by his friend Marc Zimmerman, Gonzalez looks back on his life and his role in developing Mexican, Chicano, and Latino art as a fundamental dimension of the city he came to call home._x000B__x000B_Born near Monterrey, Mexico, and raised in a steel mill town in northwest Indiana, Gonzalez studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame. Settling in Chicago, he founded two major art groups: El Movimiento Artístico Chicano (MARCH) in the 1970s and Mi Raza Arts Consortium (MIRA) in the 1980s. _x000B__x000B_With numerous illustrations, this book portrays Gonzalez's all-but-forgotten community advocacy, his commitments and conflicts, and his long struggle to bring quality arts programming to the city. By turns dramatic and humorous, his narrative also covers his bouts of illness, his relationships with other artists and arts promoters, and his place within city and barrio politics.

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Broken Souths

Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization

Michael Dowdy

Broken Souths offers the first in-depth study of the diverse field of contemporary Latina/o poetry. Its innovative angle of approach puts Latina/o and Latin American poets into sustained conversation in original and rewarding ways. In addition, author Michael Dowdy presents ecocritical readings that foreground the environmental dimensions of current Latina/o poetics.
 
Dowdy argues that a transnational Latina/o imaginary has emerged in response to neoliberalism—the free-market philosophy that underpins what many in the northern hemisphere refer to as “globalization.” His work examines how poets represent the places that have been “broken” by globalization’s political, economic, and environmental upheavals. Broken Souths locates the roots of the new imaginary in 1968, when the Mexican student movement crested and the Chicano and Nuyorican movements emerged in the United States. It theorizes that Latina/o poetics negotiates tensions between the late 1960s’ oppositional, collective identities and the present day’s radical individualisms and discourses of assimilation, including the “post-colonial,” “post-national,” and “post-revolutionary.” Dowdy is particularly interested in how Latina/o poetics reframes debates in cultural studies and critical geography on the relation between place, space, and nature.
 
Broken Souths features discussions of Latina/o writers such as Victor Hernández Cruz, Martín Espada, Juan Felipe Herrera, Guillermo Verdecchia, Marcos McPeek Villatoro, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jack Agüeros, Marjorie Agosín, Valerie Martínez, and Ariel Dorfman, alongside discussions of influential Latin American writers, including Roberto Bolaño, Ernesto Cardenal, David Huerta, José Emilio Pacheco, and Raúl Zurita.

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Brown Gumshoes

Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity

By Ralph E. Rodriguez

Popular fiction, with its capacity for diversion, can mask important cultural observations within a framework that is often overlooked in the academic world. Works thought to be merely “escapist” can often be more seriously mined for revelations regarding the worlds they portray, especially those of the disenfranchised. As detective fiction has slowly earned critical respect, more authors from minority groups have chosen it as their medium. Chicana/o authors, previously reluctant to write in an underestimated genre that might further marginalize them, have only entered the world of detective fiction in the past two decades. In this book, the first comprehensive study of Chicano/a detective fiction, Ralph E. Rodriguez examines the recent contributions to the genre by writers such as Rudolfo Anaya, Lucha Corpi, Rolando Hinojosa, Michael Nava, and Manuel Ramos. Their works reveal the struggles of Chicanas/os with feminism, homosexuality, familia, masculinity, mysticism, the nationalist subject, and U.S.-Mexico border relations. He maintains that their novels register crucial new discourses of identity, politics, and cultural citizenship that cannot be understood apart from the historical instability following the demise of the nationalist politics of the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In contrast to that time, when Chicanas/os sought a unified Chicano identity in order to effect social change, the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s have seen a disengagement from these nationalist politics and a new trend toward a heterogeneous sense of self. The detective novel and its traditional focus on questions of knowledge and identity turned out to be the perfect medium in which to examine this new self.

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