ASA 2022: Cultures of the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands

Deadline: January 22, 2022
Contact: Carlos Alonso Nugent, Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University
Email: [email protected]

Twenty-five years after Gloria Anzaldúa published Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, the U.S.–Mexico border is still “una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds.” As Anzaldúa would have predicted, this “bleed[ing]” is both violent and vital, destructive and constructive; anytime “a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country—a border culture.” However, in ways Anzaldúa failed to see, this “blood” does not flow from a single Chicanx “country,” but rather through two settler states, dozens of Native nations, and countless migrant communities: the “blood,” in other words, does not flow from a single “border culture,” but rather through a range of border cultures.

With the American Studies Association planning its 2022 Meeting (November 3-6, 2022 – New Orleans, Louisiana) around the theme “the Roof is on Fire,” this panel seeks papers that engage with the embers of the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. In keeping with Anzaldúa’s boundary-breaking style, this panel welcomes work from anthropology, history, literature, and the many other (inter)disciplines that interface with critical race and ethnic studies. By convening these conversations, the panel hopes to show how border cultures have survived and even thrived in the face of settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and ecological degradation. Among other things, it asks, How have Indigenous peoples responded to and reshaped Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. colonialisms? How have mixed-race peoples (from the mestizxs at the heart of Anzaldúa’s account to the genízarxs finally receiving recognition in border studies) blurred the apparent binaries between Natives and settlers? How have Asians, Blacks, and others who were excluded from earlier borderlands scholarship transformed the U.S. and Mexico? And how have queer and trans folks redrawn race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, and other lines of belonging?

As it asks these and other questions, our panel will not strive for definitive answers: instead, will draw on and develop a growing awareness of our diverse border cultures. In both elite forms (like the novel and the lyric) and popular practices (such as crónicas and corridos), in both physical mobilizations and media technologies (from the pen to the printing press to social media feed), these border cultures have continuously redefined themselves, each other, and their environments. Even as the U.S. and Mexico double down on deadly practices, these border cultures are very much alive.

Prospective panelists should email 300-word abstracts and brief bios to [email protected] by January 22, 2022.

Posted on December 20, 2021