From the Borderlands to the Transnational? Critiquing Empire in the Twenty-First Century

María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    I begin this essay on Latina/o studies with these two quotations not simply for their content, but also for the tenor of each author's observations. Elliott Young, the historian, nevertheless calls for a new border history that gazes ever forward, in search of scholarly paradigms to move us beyond the limitations of nations and national time. Meanwhile Lisa Lowe, the literary critic, calls for a future American studies that turns its gaze resolutely backward, in a reexamination of the United States' imperial past, a reexamination that might help us to better critique the interminable national present. Surely, the aftermath of hurricane Katrina makes the importance of Lowe's call painfully clear, as the United States' past of racial exploitation and segregation vibrantly informs the present. Only by coming to terms with the country's historic dependence on a racialized labor force, subject to extra-economic forms of coercion, can we fully analyze the meaning of the tens of thousands of impoverished blacks waiting at the Superdome, on rooftops and balconies, waiting to be counted as citizens while news images laid bare their disenfranchisement and the Bush Administration's calculated indifference to it. And yet, even as the media focused our attention on the racialized structure of class hierarchy in this country, news anchors fully participated in the representational racism undergirding it. For how else to explain unsubstantiated rumors of widespread raping and killing ("looting") throughout the city, which later proved to be completely unfounded, repeated as fact by grim-faced news anchors? This demonization of black masculinity and sexuality is so ritualized in the national news media as to have become banal.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationA Companion to Latina/o Studies
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9781405177603
    ISBN (Print)9781405126229
    StatePublished - Feb 27 2008


    • Beyond border theory
    • Estamos en kanses

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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