Abstracts

Transnational Flows of Superbarrio: Barrio Politics in Southern California
Edwin Corbin

This essay analyzes how Superbarrio's relajo travels to the US. I demonstrate how the performances of Mexico City's crusader against "corrupt authorities and voracious landlords" can also blur the boundaries of formal political procedures and popular cultural performances in the US. I examine how Superbarrio transposes his negotiation skills from the housing struggle in Mexico City to the immigrant struggles in the US by using his tour of southern California to defend the rights of undocumented workers in 1991. I claim that through his performance of a characteristically Mexican irreverent political humor, Superbarrio is able to create an alternative means of negotiation wherein the intransigence of the state is temporarily disabled.
When he is arrested in Los Angeles, he not only defends his case, but frames it within a discourse of civil rights that successfully garners traction through US media and political allies. In order to deploy his relajo, Superbarrio uses specific tropes and imagery of the barrio - barriology aesthetics - that elicit strong initial reactions and halt regular bureaucratic procedures where corruption and discrimination are domesticated and operate in everyday life without being successfully questioned. Through his intervention, he draws a blueprint for culturally-specific tactics of negotiation between representatives of grassroots social movements and government bodies. I theorize relajo and Superbarrio's transnational flows from the works of Roger Bartra, Jorge Cadena Roa, Miguel Díaz-Barriga, Marcia Farr, Nestor García Canclini, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, José Limón, Claudio Lomnitz-Adler, Carlos Monsiváis, Jorge Portilla, Renato Rosaldo, Diana Taylor, and Raúl Homero Villa.


The Border in New York: Performances of Illegal Immigration and Legal Consciousness
Gad Guterman

My paper will examine how the Mexican–US border is performed in New York City, and specifically how the figure of the illegal alien becomes the protagonist of stories about the border. Thus, I hope to focus attention on the role that law plays in our conceptualizations of migration and reterritorialization. Three recent instances of performance—an open-run staging of Carlos Lacámara’s Nowhere on the Border – En ningún lugar de la frontera at the Repertorio Español; “Catch the Illegal Immigrant,” a so-called game organized by NYU’s Republican Club; and a May 1 demonstration/boycott, “Day Without an Immigrant”—will together serve as a case study to illuminate performance’s power to shape our legal consciousness, an idea that has received increasing attention in legal anthropology, but less so in performance and theatre studies. Drawing particularly from the work of legal and cultural anthropologist Susan Coutin, whose work on undocumented immigrants offers a theory of “spaces of nonexistence,” I hope to offer performance as a countering force, one that necessarily creates a space, albeit fleeting, of existence. The way in which illegality is performed both sheds light on how the law underpins practices of community and national belonging and also offers strategies for subverting and contesting the legal structures that produce a border in the first place. Moreover, how illegal immigration is performed in NYC helps to problematize bi-nationality as central to our dialogue on reterritorialization. I therefore hope to consider the scene of migration between Mexico and the US as a phenomenon whose performance is not confined to the physical border and whose increasing presence in our cultural landscape shapes our national legal consciousness in simultaneously inclusive and divisive ways.


La música y la radio, elementos transformadores de la identidad de los migrantes mexicanos en Estados Unidos
Ignacia Morales Reyes

La migración en su aspecto cultural tiene una significación especial, al ser desdibujado un territorio para poblar otro, por tal se adquiere una nueva identidad, plagados de significaciones y representaciones, es decir podemos observar una serie de performance, en estas sociedades migrantes, en donde la religión, la comida, el cine y la música, por mencionar algunos, están mostrando esa transformación y transculturación de diversas formas.
En este sentido tenemos múltiples representaciones socio-culturales que nos presentan las nuevas realidades de los procesos migratorios contemporáneos, precisamente este estudio de caso presenta las trasformaciones de las sociedades migrantes en el aspecto cultural, en su interacción con la radio y la música grupera o norteña como un fuerte vinculo de comunicación y expresión entre los inmigrantes y sus connacionales en México.
Así las estaciones de radio han cambiado, existen nuevos géneros musicales, y también nuevas estaciones de habla hispana que surgieron como parte de este fenómeno por lo que podemos encontrar estaciones que expresan y mantienen ese vinculo de comunicación, por ejemplo: coyote, la invasora, el vacilón de la mañana, radio bilingüe1, entre otras.
Por consiguiente la música nos permite comprender esa relación de complejidad, ya sea de género norteño o grupero al leer la letra de estas, nos remiten a capítulos de la vida de migrantes, ya que nos cuentan historias, vivencias, sentimientos, lugares y realidades, en su relación con elementos que forman parte de la carga cultural de estos y que de cierta manera les dan identidad.

No me critiquen por que vivo en el otro lado no soy un desarraigado,
vine por necesidad, ya muchos años que me vine de mojado, mis costumbres
no han cambiado ni mi nacionalidad…
“El otro México”. Los tigres del norte, 1986


Melodrama and the Performance of Migration: A Central American Cinderella
Ana Elena Puga

Mexico’s 1,150-kilometer border with Guatemala is too often dismissed, from a US-centered perspective, as a less significant version of the United States border with Mexico. Journalists and travel writers, for instance, have dubbed the Guatemalan border town of Tecún Umán “little Tijuana.” Yet the Mexico-Guatemala border differs significantly from its northern counterpart and bears study on its own terms. While the narrow Suchiate River between Guatemala and Mexico is not vigorously patrolled, making the physical passage from country to country relatively easy, the passage north to Mexico City through sparsely populated southern Mexico poses an extremely dangerous journey for migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. This paper focuses on the performative work done by the hundreds of bodies of Central American men and women permanently maimed in falls during their attempts to jump on moving freight trains or in attacks by assailants who steal their possessions then throw them off the trains. Dozens of images of migrants missing hands, arms, or legs may be seen on “objective” news reports, in film documentaries such as Tim Dirdamal’s De Nadie, and on internet sites in sympathy with the migrants’ plight, such as the website of Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey. I analyze the framing, circulation, and reception of these horrific images, as well as the images themselves, to argue that while the images encourage empathy for the migrant as a human being who suffers pain, and can be used to denounce the high human cost of restrictive immigration policies, they also serve to reinforce dominant discourses intended to deter other would-be migrants. I also explore the troubling hypothesis that the images may serve to reinforce the idea among some opponents of immigration that injured migrants are suffering retribution for their violation of national laws.


Sacred Reterritorialization: The Latino Theater Company’s
La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzín

Chantal Rodríguez

Although once a part of Mexico, the city of Los Angeles came of age through appropriating and eradicating the area’s ties to Mexico and its people. Ironically, in spite of the systematic erasure and displacement of Los Angeles’ Mexican/Chicano/Latino populations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, they have emerged as the city’s most populous inhabitants. Consequently, for Latinas/os in Los Angeles, social performance has been employed as a vehicle of resistance, particularly through the staging of revisionist histories which contest hegemonic meanings and powerful mechanisms of dominant society. Accordingly, this paper examines the Latino Theater Company’s (LATC) annual production of La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzín which is performed within the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. This large-scale performance of theater, music, and dance, recreates the four apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe witnessed by Juan Diego in 1531, while drawing parallels between histories of colonization in the Americas with Latina/o urban displacement in Los Angeles.
I employ Diana Taylor’s critical paradigm of the Archive and the Repertoire to examine the ways in which the LATC production works within and against an archive of Roman Catholic ideology through a particularly indigenous repertoire of embodied knowledge. Furthermore, I argue that the performance reterritorializes the sacred space of the Cathedral through its performative take-over of the space, particularly the altar, as the site for the performance of Aztec myths of origin and blessing rituals. This case study is salient to the session theme as it exemplifies the ways Los Angeles’ Latina/o community has utilized performance to reclaim Latina/o space in the city while also calling upon shared histories of colonization, migration and displacement to move beyond national and ethnic identifications and foster a collective pan-Latina/o identity within the U.S.


Un encuentro multicultural con los muertos: festejo de día de muertos en el Mission District de San Francisco, California
Paola Suárez Ávila

La presente ponencia tiene como objetivo mostrar el análisis del festejo de día de muertos, el 1° y 2 de noviembre, en el barrio de Mission District de San Francisco California. La celebración del día de muertos que se lleva a cabo todos los años en el barrio mexicano de la ciudad de San Francisco tiene una interesante configuración y conformación social; siendo el anfitrión la comunidad mexicano-americana del barrio mexicano se establecen interesantes relaciones e intercambios culturales con otros grupos sociales que no pertenecen a la cultura mexicana pero que se muestran interesados en esta manifestación cultural, social y espiritual tan importante en México.
Dicha celebración tiene diversas manifestaciones artísticas y culturales que se relacionan con la tradición mexicana del día de muertos; se organiza una fiesta mexicana, se realiza una procesión en las calles principales del barrio, se convoca a artistas y perfomanceros a realizar presentaciones en torno a esta tradición, se invita a público en general a participar en el altar mayor del barrio y también se invita a que se hagan altares en las puertas principales de las casas.
En el análisis se estudia la importancia de dicha celebración en las comunidades de migrantes mexicanos que habitan en Estados Unidos en el caso específico del Mission District, explicando la configuración de la fiesta y el perfomance, los elementos que han sido insertados a la celebración como resultado de la inmersión de migrantes en la cultura estadounidense y por último, se analiza la participación de otros grupos sociales que influyen en la transformación del sentido de la tradición mexicana del día de muertos.


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