This graduate seminar examines the U.S.-Mexico Border region from an interdisciplinary American studies perspective. We will discuss the 1969-mile-long border (3169 km) as a complex contact zone, where various geographic, political, socioeconomic, and cultural issues meet and intersect. Twelve million people live on both sides of the border region, whose landscape changes from valleys, deserts, canyons, and mountains all the way into the ocean, while some 250 million people travel across the border each year. Through lectures, readings, discussions, and presentations on music, film, fiction, visual art, performance, and folklore, we will encounter citizens, immigrants, exiles, and transnationals, who negotiate their identities in relation to legal status, national boundaries, and language within the borderlands. Through these examples, we will see that popular culture is never “just entertainment,” but impacts societal power relations as well as civil rights, political rights, and human rights issues in important ways.
- Teacher: Benita Heiskanen