Spectres on the Border: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Fronterizo

Date: 
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez, University of New Mexico

When the narrator of Junot Diaz’ The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, asks, “What more sci-fi than Santo Domingo? What more fantasy than the Antilles?” my response is: “the US/Mexico border.”  As a juncture in the “Middle World,” that region that Breyten Breytenbach cites as lying between the First and the Third worlds, the border is a space where “truths no longer fit snugly and certainties do not overlap” (14). As such, it is also a space, as I have referred elsewhere, of Wandering. Wandering through migrant systems of meaning, expanding the boundaries that are inscribed within the fluidity of border encounters: transculturation, migrant communities, and the border itself. As such, the border is a spectral site, constituted by transnational histories, national ideologies in competition over the region, and communities caught in the crossfire who seek strategies to subvert narratives of control.

This presentation is a theoretical/autobiographical inquiry focused on Wandering as an oppositional strategy for negotiating the cultural contact zones that can make up the US/Mexico Borderlands, in particular the border between the Californias. My aim is to show how border writers from Tijuana write through a border consciousness that travels between many different discursive zones, affording a migrant sensibility for negotiating the open, spectral, ambiguous nature of borders and, on a larger extent, the Middle World.

Venue: Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, Weyertal 59, 50937 Köln, 17.45-19.15