Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Synopsis

'In this beautiful study, Schmidt Camacho demonstrates that Mexican migrant imaginaries affirm in songs, manifestos, poetry, novels, and testimonies visions of justice that exceed the limits of the nation-form and the logics of capital accumulation? - Lisa Lowe, author of Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics Migrant Imaginaries explores the transnational movements of Mexican migrants in pursuit of labor and civil rights in the United States from the 1920s onward. Working through key historical moments such as the 1930s, the Chicano Movement, and contemporary globalization and neoliberalism, Alicia Schmidt Camacho examines the relationship between ethnic Mexican expressive culture and the practices sustaining migrant social movements. Combining sustained historical engagement with theoretical inquiries, she addresses how struggles for racial and gender equity, cross-border unity, and economic justice have defined the Mexican presence in the United States since 1910. Schmidt Camacho covers a range of archives and sources, including migrant testimonials and songs, Americo Paredes? last published novel, The Shadow, the film Salt of the Earth, the foundational manifestos of El Movimiento, Richard Rodriguez? memoirs, narratives by Marisela Norte and Rosario Sanmiguel, and testimonios of Mexican women workers and human rights activists, as well as significant ethnographic research. Throughout, she demonstrates how Mexicans and Mexican Americans imagined their communal ties across the border, and used those bonds to contest their noncitizen status. Migrant Imaginaries places migrants at the center of the hemisphere's most pressing concerns, contending that border crossers have long been vital to social change.

Excerpt

For all their permeability, the borders
snaking across the world have never
been of greater importance. This is the
dance of history in our age: slow, slow,
quick, quick, slow, back and forth and
from side to side, we step across these
flxed and shifting lines.

— Salman Rushdie, Step across
This Line (2002

This is a book shaped by struggle, by the efforts of migrant people to assert their full humanity in border crossings that confer on them the status of the alien, the illegal, the refuse of nations. The women, men, and children who traverse the boundary between Mexico and the United States have rarely conformed to the usual trajectory of immigration, of leaving behind one national polity to assume a settled existence as citizens of another. “Nos ha tocado ser gente que no es de aquí ni de allá” [It has been our lot to be people who are neither from here nor from there], lamented Guadalupe Gómez in 2006, expressing the dilemma that has confronted the millions of Mexican migrants since the establishment of modern forms of border policing in 1924. Gómez participated in the massive, immigrant-led protests that swept the country after the House of Representatives passed HR 4437, the Border Protection, AntiTerrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, in December 2005. Opposing anti-immigrant reforms that would have made even humanitarian assistance to undocumented people a felony, Gómez uttered the common wish of Mexican migrants to defend their autonomy of movement and their bonds of kinship and community across national boundaries: “Ahora . . .

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