Event—Scholarly Seminars

Kate Hoin, Wayne State University, and Natalia Mendoza, Fordham University


The Things They Carry: A Geocritical Analysis of Lost Objects in U.S./Mexico Borderlands Literature, Kate Hoin, Wayne State University

This chapter uses geocritical and ecocritical lenses to analyze the lost and left-behind objects that appear in U.S./Mexico borderland literature, following Yuri Herrera’s Señales que precederán al fin del mundo and its protagonist, Makina. These migrant objects tell histories that haunt the borderlands, and they can - and should - be read as pieces of the journey. I suggest that these objects are the final testimony of loss, and we must think about them transgressively, as we collect, document and preserve the evidence of this geopolitical occupation of the borderlands, and the systematic erasure of its people, places, and stories.

The US-Mexico Border as a Fictive Commodity: Enclosure and Gatekeeping in the Altar Desert, Natalia Mendoza, Fordham University

In the rural borderlands of northern Sonora, the US-Mexico border is spoken of as a resource that can be exploited, appropriated, and even inherited. Each segment of the international border is owned by a particular mafia or individual boss which charges fees to other users. Drawing on Polanyi’s notion of “fictive commodity”, this article looks at this process as a form of enclosure of the commons closely linked to the fencing off of ranching lands. In turn, the private exploitation of routes across the international border has unleashed a boundary-making process between rival mafias within Mexico. Even though these invisible borders were at first only effective for criminalized commodities and subjects, they have slowly acquired broader social significance shaping regional identities and enmities.

Respondent: Jonathan Inda, UIC