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December 8, 2003


Latin American and Latino studies professor is author of new book on Mexico-U.S. borderlands

Rosa Linda Fregoso, professor and chair of the Latin American and Latino Studies Department, is author of the new book meXicana Encounters (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), an examination of the role of culture in the formation of social identities on the borderlands between Mexico and the United States.

Fregoso offers new insights into the ways racial and gender differences are inscribed in cultural practices, and her writing blends cultural history, testimonial, memory, autobiography, film criticism, critical race studies, and transnational feminist theory.

The capital "x" in the title has "multiple significations," said Fregoso, including emphasizing the pronounciation of "Xicana," which is the spelling of "Chicana" in Nahuatl, the language spoken in south-central Mexico and the administrative language of the Aztec empire. It is also meant to evoke the notions of crossroads and "intersectionality."

The book includes chapters on state terrorism in Mexico, an analysis of the film Paulina’s role in breaking the silences around private, domestic forms of violence, and a discussion of the portrayal of the Chicana as "other" in the John Sayles’s film Lone Star. Chapters Four and Five focus on "la familia," including the relationship among Chicano nationalism, the ideology of "la familia," and Chicana feminist discourse. Three chapters are devoted to film, including discussions of Lupe Vélez, a star who disrupted conventional notions of femininity in Hollywood and Mexico, and the representation of Mexicanas in silent cinema. Fregoso concludes by resurrecting the cinematic memories of her maternal grandmother to showcase the influence of early movies on the life of Texas-Mexicans in South Texas, and to recover a history of movie exhibition and spectatorship that has since disappeared from official memory.
-Jennifer McNulty

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