Event—Scholarly Seminars

Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Mini Conference

Enrique Davila, University of Chicago / Gema Kloppe-Santamaria, Loyola University Chicago / Michael Martinez-Raguso, Colby College / Katherine Massoth, University of Louisville / Kristin Pitt, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Panel 1: 9:30 am to 10:45am: Respondent: Helana Olea Rodriguez, University of Illinois at Chicago

​Gema Kloppe-Santamaria — Representation, Refusal and Remembrance: Extralegal Violence in Mexico and the United States (1910s-1930s)

This paper analyzes public representations of extralegal violence in Mexico and the United States. It traces how Mexico’s awareness of the lynching of Mexican nationals in the U.S contributed challenging the image of Mexico as a place of danger and lawlessness. The paper also examines why Mexico’s condemnation of extralegal violence against its citizens in the U.S. did not translate into a greater public outcry against the lynching of hundreds of Mexicans under its own territory. The article argues that nationalism and public portrayals of lynching as an “American exception” added to Mexico’s selective remembrance of its victims.

Panel 2: 11 am to 12:30 pm: Respondent:Salome Aguilera Skvirsky, University of Chicago

Michael Martinez-Raguso—Narration of Violence / Violence of Narration: The Ethics of Time and Space in Representing Femicide

This paper approaches the ethics of representation of femicidal violence on the Mexican-U.S. border through both space (distance vs. proximity) and time (repetition, past vs. present narration) by examining the movement between these elements across three radically different texts: Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666, Carlos Carrera’s film; Backyard: El traspatio, and ire’ne lara silva’s story “la huesera, or, flesh to bone.” Against the fetishization of the cadaver found in the work of Bolaño and Carrera, lara silva’s backward narration of femicidal violence signals a mythological fantasy of healing whose ethics are rooted in a spiritual relation to time itself.

Kristin Pitt — An Impossible Story To Tell: Literature of Feminicide in Ciudad Juárez

Alicia Gaspar de Alba's Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders is a powerful, feminist novel of the complex circumstances that have allowed an epidemic of feminicide to continue for decades in Ciudad Juárez, offering important counter-narratives to earlier depictions of Juárez's gendered violence. Perhaps because the novel narrates a story that is nearly impossible to tell, though, it simultaneously undermines its ambitious attempts to humanize the victims of Juárez's feminicide. Ultimately, I argue, the melodramatic elements of the novel and its heroic conclusion situate Desert Blood disconcertingly within a tradition of sentimental novels without offering a more revolutionary vision of change.

Panel 3: 1:30pm to 3pm: Respondent: Ben Johnson, Loyola University Chicago

Enrique Davila —Coming to Terms with Mexicanos in Texas: The Use of Pan-Ethnic Labels in La Crónicato describe Mexican-Origin People Living in South Texas,1910-1914

This dissertation chapter examines the terms used by the Idar family of South Texas to describe Mexican-origin people in their Spanish language, family-run newspaper, La Crónica. La Crónica featured phrases like la raza mexicana, México-Texanos, and netamente mexicanos, yet not always with consistency. Some labels described a broad, multicolored, Latin-origin community while others described white (by treaty), ethnically Mexican, U.S. citizens. Probing the Idar’s language allows us to trace the vague boundaries delineating their target audience and provides insight into the making of a unique Mexican-American ethnicity in South Texas during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

Katherine Massoth— Skirting the Line: Spanish-Mexican Women's Transborder Domestic Networks in Las Cruces-Juárez Borderlands, 1863-1912

This paper discusses how the women of Amador and Ruiz families participated in a gendered transborder domestic network between Las Cruces and Ciudad Juárez. In this network, the women traded labor, domestic wares, foodstuffs, and hand-sewn clothing across the border. Since many of the women's crossings were attached to domesticity, they were not visible in government archives documenting smuggling and trade. Nevertheless, these actions sustained their family's wealth and ethnic identity after U.S. annexation. This paper makes visible the women's actions that allowed their families to survive in the borderlands.

Lunch will be provided from 12:30pm to 1:30pm.
Please RSVP by April 22, 2019 if you are planning to stay for lunch.