The US-Mexico Border as Contested Space: Film and Popular Culture, 1990 to the Present
In the 1990s, the border regions of the USA and Mexico became a prime field of reference in literary and cultural studies that investigated themes such as global migration, globalization, multiple identities and different forms of cultural 'mixing'. Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands/La Frontera, for example, directs attention to the far-reaching effects the border has had on the population of the region, not just in terms of a national border but also as a symbolic site that signifies in terms of gender and sexual differences as well as racial, ethnic, and cultural differences. More recently, however, the study of the US-Mexico border region has shifted its focus away from questions of cultural mixing towards questions of security, violence and nationalism. This shift of scholarly interest has been caused by the post-9/11 attempts of "protecting the nation". Anti-immigration sentiments have brought about a renewed scholarly interest in the border. I aim at exploring the cultural production since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force in 1994. The research will juxtapose different positions as expressed symbolically in film and popular culture, and will outline patterns of political polarization in the region. While in the 1990s cultural mixing and exchange characterized much artistic work on the borderlands, my hypothesis is that in more recent times surveillance and sealing-off have successively become more powerful patterns of representation and themes.