Border Culture

Border Culture

Border Culture

Border Culture

Synopsis

The border between the United States and Mexico, despite attempts at containment, remains a vast and uniquely malleable yet indefinable region. With "Border Culture," Ilan Stavans has collected essays representative of the tangled experiences and issues central to life between cultures.

Divided into two sections, "Border Culture" covers topics essential to better understanding this often misunderstood region and state-of-mind. The first section, "Considerations," culls essays covering socio-economic and political topics illustrating the hyper reality of life and living on "La Frontera." Section two, ""Testimonios,"" takes careful consideration of lives affected by the border, either as a finite place, alternate universe, or the framework of the border as a state-of-mind, through various historic and literary accounts of "La Frontera." This enlightening and comprehensive collection will no doubt help readers better understand border culture.

Excerpt

The book series The Ilan Stavans Library of Latino Civilization, the first of its kind, is devoted to exploring all the facets of Hispanic civilization in the United States, with its ramifications in the Americas, the Caribbean Basin, and the Iberian Peninsula. the objective is to showcase its richness and complexity from a myriad perspective. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino minority is the largest in the nation. It is also the fifth largest concentration of Hispanics in the globe.

One out of every seven Americans traces his or her roots to the Spanishspeaking world. Mexicans make up about 65% of the minority. Other major national groups are Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Colombians. They are either immigrants, descendants of immigrants, or dwellers in a territory (Puerto Rico, the Southwest) having a conflicted relationship with the mainland U.S. As such, they are the perfect example of encuentro: an encounter with different social and political modes, an encounter with a new language, and encounter with a different way of dreaming.

The series is a response to the limited resources available and the abundance of stereotypes, which are a sign of lazy thinking. the 20th century Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, author of The Revolt of the Masses, once said: “By speaking, by thinking, we undertake to clarify things, and that forces us to exacerbate them, dislocate them, schematize them. Every concept is in itself an exaggeration.” the purpose of the series is not to clarify but to complicate our understanding of Latinos. Do so many individuals from different national, geographic, economic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds coalesce as an integrated whole? Is there an unum in the pluribus?

Baruch Spinoza believed that every thing in the universe wants to be preserved in its present form: a tree wants to be a tree, and a dog a dog. Latinos in the United States want to be Latinos in the United States—no easy task, and therefore an intriguing one to explore. Each volume of the series contains an assortment of approximately a dozen articles, essays and interviews by journalists and specialists in their respective fields, followed by a bibliography of important resources on the topic. Their compilation is . . .

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