Margie Brown-Coronel, Independent Scholar; Deborah Cohen, University of Missouri-St. Louis; Lessie Frazier, Indiana University; and Rebecca Schreiber, University of New Mexico

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar
Friday, November 2, 2012

3 to 5 pm

“Claiming Californio Memories: The Politics of Cultural Legacies in Southern California”
Margie Brown-Coronel, Independent Scholar

Through a focused study on the del Valle family, this paper explores how Californio families utilized emerging popular notions of Southern California’s regional identity as a strategy to secure their long-standing cultural legacy and authority. Complicating existing historical works on California’s Spanish fantasy past that attribute the power of memory making, propagating, and consuming to Anglo American boosters, preservationists, and residents, I analyze the family’s role in two cultural productions of California’s Spanish fantasy past: the commercialization of the novel Ramona and the Mission Play and show how particular forms of preserving the family’s past intersected with the popular depictions of the region. I assert that the family utilized this intersection as a strategy that secured their privilege and authority to be both makers and consumers of California memories.

Creole California, the Market-State, and Homophobically Queered Citizenship in The Mask of Zorro
Deborah Cohen, University of Missouri-St. Louis and Lessie Frazier, Indiana University

Analyzing The Mask of Zorro as a window onto discursive currents of neoliberalism during the late 1990s, this article argues that the market-oriented cinematic displacement of racialized, destitute immigrants works through centering a racialized erotic economy where creoles (descendants of European immigrants) are the polymorphously desirable and desiring protagonists. The 1998 film, set in mid-1800s California, shows the transformation of Alejandro Murrieta from peasant child to mestizo low-level bandit to cultured gentleman ready for Zorro’s mask, cape, and sword, under the tutelage of the elder Zorro. Hollywood’s California becomes a site of neoliberal fantasy, a space imagined as open, up for grabs, and without a visible legitimate state presence, ripe for the gratification of private ambitions. With racialized relocations of desire managed in this new, market-driven, political economy, fully political democratic citizenship, then, is homoerotically charged and the state homophobically queered.

“Visible Frictions: Documentary and Self-Representation in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”
Rebecca Schreiber, University of New Mexico

This paper focuses on “The Border Film Project” (2007), a documentary photography project published in book form that attempts to represent “both sides” of the contemporary immigration debate “equally.” The book addresses contemporary conflicts over U.S. immigration policy, and contains photographs taken by Mexican and Central American migrants as well as by members of the Minuteman Project. In this paper I analyze the book producers’ strategy of “self representation” as a means to make these two groups “visible,” as well as their construction of an equivalence between migrants and Minutemen.

Commentator: Gilberto Rosas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Cost and registration information: 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.