The New Border

Since the early 1990s, the United States government has increasingly militarized its border with Mexico, with far-reaching effects. The increased enforcement infrastructure in southern California and Texas, for instance, has funneled migrants into southern Arizona’s dangerous deserts, where thousands have died of heat exposure. Meanwhile, the transformation of the former Immigration and Naturalization Services into Immigration and Custom Services (ICE) under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security has entailed the exponential growth of security operations throughout the nation, in effect making the border ubiquitous. These changes, among many others, constitute the “new border,” a term we will use in this seminar to explore literature and culture post-dating Gloria Anzaldúa’s foundational text Borderlands / La Frontera (1987). We will ask, how has border militarization changed Chicanx (Mexican American) literary expression? What tropes, genres, and ideas has literature of the new border produced? How might the paradigm of the new border affect our understanding of the broad sweep of border history? Texts will include poetry by Juan Felipe Herrera, Alberto Ríos, and Valerie Martinez, and prose by Oscar Martínez, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Sandra Cisneros.