Guide La Comunidad Latina in the United States: Personal and Political Strategies for Transforming Culture

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Nuestramérica Solidarity at the Service of Chavismo’s Regional Legitimation

Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. The chapter argues that these two texts have become legal trespassers on the academic landscape. Their legal status is based at least partly on their high degree of intelligibility, which allows for the reader to interpret the text outside of its specific context. A second factor in these texts having crossed over is the ability of academic discourse to contain their oppositional potential through manageable difference.

That both these texts can be read as forms of the bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, is posited as particularly influential in their reception, as is the fact that they are narrated through the voices of children. By studying the reception of two texts that have moved, at least to some degree, from periphery to center, this chapter approaches the coyote question not at the time of crossing, as do the other chapters, but after the fact. I hope that this study will prove useful to students, teachers, and scholars who share an interest in border-crossing texts.

Ius Constitutionale Commune en América Latina

Although such texts can, indeed, be dangerous cargo, engagement with them is necessary given that they are situated in a zone that will increasingly come to define the twenty-first century marked by borrowing and lending across porous national and cultural boundaries that are saturated with inequality, power, and domination Rosaldo, Culture The primary objective of this book is to further the discussion regarding multiculturalism and the role PAGE 19 Introduction 9of the humanities in crosscultural communication, yet I also hope that it will spark internal debates within individuals.

While the central argument presented herenamely, that in our roles as teachers and scholars we function as coyotes transporting potentially dangerous cargomay seem a condemnation of our work, I hope that it will ultimately be embraced as an identity full of possibilities. PAGE 20 10 Latino American Literature in the Classroom1Border Crossers and CoyotesThere is no neutral standpoint in the power-laden field of discursive positionings, in a shifting matrix of relationships, of I s and you s.

James Clifford, The Predicament of Culturedown in the bowels of the brick building Esperanza s words come out clean, neat, pretty permanent-pressed on white paper folded into fresh plastic bags with zip-lock tops. The subtitle directs the reader to the role the researcher s own story will play in the book. The main title is also used to refer to both Esperanza and Behar. The latter s positionalityor identificationas a Jewish, Cuban American woman is problematized in the text. The book is as much Esperanza s life story as the story of how the book was written, including chapters on theory and methodology as well as the researcher s intellectual autobiography and a shadow biography.

This overtly self-reflexive strategy renders an analysis of Translated Woman useful in laying the foundations for a dis- PAGE 21 Border Crossers and Coyotes 11cussion of how and why marginalized texts enter into academic discourse, as well as our own participation as teachers and scholars in these border crossings. This study proposes that our roles align us with the figure of the coyote, the person who transports undocumented workers across the U.

It furthermore suggests ways to transform our coyote identity into positive action in terms of both research and pedagogical practices. A discussion of the coyote as analogous to the work of U. To do this, it is imperative to situate Behar s Translated Woman as well as this entire study in the field s of Border Studies and Border Theory. Border Studies focuses on a specific geographic location, the U.


It aims to articulate and analyze not only geopolitical relations between the two nations as they manifest themselves on the region and its inhabitants, but also cultural productions on both sides, which grow out of the historic and daily realities shaped by the existence of the border. As such, the borderlands become descriptive, not only of that space between Mexico and the United States, but also of its multiple duplications, which take place within and between subjects and discourses. David E. Border Studies and Border Theory have also been developing on the Mexican side of the border.

Furthermore, Border Theory has also subverted the notion of the border as the limit that defines and contains the nation, and transformed it rather into a space that not only allows for but necessitates global connectedness. Jos David Saldvar summarizes this point in writing, The invocation of the U.

Behar s Translated Woman, as discussed in this chapter, illustrates both the border crossings that texts undergo as they enter academic discourse as well as our own participation, as coyotes, in these border crossings. The first and most obvious transformation of Esperanza s story, or its first border crossing, is its movement from the oral to the written.

This process of textualization, however obvious, is everything but simple. It has been argued by critics such as Derrida in his deconstruction of logocentrism or the privileging of the spoken word over the written that all language mediates, the very act of language deferring meaning. In the essay, Plato s Pharmacy, Derrida subsumes speech as a form of writing. Even if we accept this scriptocentric position, it is still true that as a form of writing, the oral tale is quite different from the written. By necessity, reading in the literal sense is a different process from that of listening, just as writing is different from speech.

Behar as editor is fully aware of her roles as both listener to Esperanza s storytelling and author of that story by retelling it in written form. PAGE 23 Border Crossers and Coyotes 13It worries me that one does violence to the life history as a story by turning it into the disposable commodity of information. One approach I took to this problem was to focus on the act of life story representation as reading rather than as informing, with its echoes of surveillance and disclosures of truth.

I have tried to make clear that what I am reading is a story, or set of stories, that have been told to me, so that I, in turn, can tell them again, transforming myself from a listener into a storyteller. Behar, Translated Woman 13 The use of the word storyteller is significant in that it masks the fact that in having to cut, cut, and cut away at our talk to make it fit between the covers of a book, and even more important, to make it recognizable as a story, a certain kind of story, a life history Behar 12 , Behar has assumed a role that, if perhaps not entirely the author s, strongly resembles it.

The construct of author implies the story be fixed as text, conforming in some way to a recognizable form; that is, we must recognize it as a story. Even the most experimental text presents itself as belonging to a particular genre, for to push or to put into question the boundaries of form we must first agree that such a form, along with its boundaries, exists. To cast Behar as the author of another woman s story is not intended here as criticism of her work.

Latino American Literature in the Classroom: The Politics of Transformation

To expect the subaltern to speak, in terms of a written text which can then enter the realm of academic discourse, is a utopian ideal, as Gayatri Spivak reminds us. In doing so, Translated Woman avoids treating the author of the testimonial as an authentic, singular voice without acknowledging the mediations of the editors and market demands of publishing which, Caren Kaplan warns, can result in new forms of exoticization and racism Kaplan Translated Woman, rather than fostering the illusion of an unmediated first-person narrative, upholds what Carole Boyce Davies identifies as the oral narrative contract in life story telling.

Davies writes: In the oral narrative process, trust is often fostered when the editor supplies features of her own life story. The narrating takes place then in a context of plural identity and shared history. In the written version, however, it seems, the oral life narrating contract is often violated. Rarely is the collector s story part of the narrative.

At the point of writing, then, the dominant-subordinate relationships are en- PAGE 24 14 Latino American Literature in the Classroomforced and the editor becomes a detached, sometimes clinical, orderer or even exploiter of the life stories for anthropological ends, research data, raw material, or the like. Davies 12 13 By writing herself into the narrative, or rather resisting writing herself out, Behar can avert the more obvious trappings of colonizing Esperanza s story. By including her story in the text, Behar also intensifies our awareness as readers of how and to what extent every subject participates in the historical, economic, political, and cultural set of relations implicated in a narrative that is displaced across borders for the purpose of consumption in an academic marketplace.

Behar chooses to use both a novelistic style and a dialogical style in this book, so as to keep Esperanza s voice at the center of the text Behar, Translated Woman The choice reflects the changes over time in the relationship between the two women. Behar also makes explicit use of other forms such as drama, as when she introduces one of Esperanza s monologues with stage directions: July 13, At the kitchen table again after another year s absence. Same cast of characters This blending of forms is arguably a daring choice that make the book that much harder to define.

In her preface, Behar posits a measure of success for this project in terms of its ability to reflect the complexity and contradictions that mark Esperanza s life and her story. She states, If nothing else, I hope I ve made her life in this book too big for easy consumption xii. Her narrative strategies do just that. The first part of Esperanza s story, beginning with her birth and leading up to the present time, is narrated through recreated monologues that read as a testimonial novel.

It is told in the first person, with the use of dialogue, an element that Behar notes reflects Esperanza s own style, telling virtually the entire story in dialogue form, changing voices like a spirit medium or a one-woman theater of voices to impersonate all the characters in her narratives Behar, Translated Woman 7.

This novelistic style also reflects Esperanza s own narrative models, noted by Behar as being Christian narratives of redemption, fotonovelas,7 confessional narratives, and myths of women warriors, such as those found in the colonial Mexican Inquisition narratives The culture of writing has so permeated outward to influence other forms that, while maintaining its difference from written texts, oral storytelling in contemporary contexts often reflects literary models that have been filtered through mass media.

The novelistic style of this first portion of Esperanza s life story conforms to the genre s seamless claim to reality. It adheres to literary expectations of character, plot, chronology, conflict, and so on. Interestingly, this style s appeal to us readers lies in the contradiction that because it is highly stylized, and follows literary models, it becomes believable as truth. How this effect is achieved is quite complicated and well beyond the scope of this book, demanding an analysis of that blurred space between fiction and nonfiction. This is the very space that has been the subject of debate within disciplines such as anthropology and history in the recent past, as well as at the core of much of the Latin American fiction that has established itself as canonical.

Works by Borges, Carpentier, Garca Mrquez, and Fuentes, to name just a few, enter and explore this liminal space from the opposite side of autobiographical narrative. But liminal spaces such as this are borderlands, and as we enter, disorientation takes over. Because of this, approaching the blurred space between fiction and nonfiction, from the perspective of either, leads us to similar questions. Thus, by extension, to explore this borderland we should enter from both sides, or more accurately, from a multiplicity of sides.

In Part Two of the book, Esperanza s story narrates the here and now in the context of her evolving relationship with Behar. The gringa anthropologista label Behar uses and later in the text subvertsis an active participant in these chapters. She ventures out alongside her comadre on her selling routes, visiting her comadre s milpa, and even accompanying her to a ceremony at a spiritist center venerating thethen problematic for Beharfigure of Pancho Villa.

The visit to the spiritist center becomes a turning point, both in the relationship between Behar and Esperanza and in the textit is placed, not coincidentally, in the physical center of the book. The events that transpire at the center are described as part fiesta, part religious ceremony, and part performance orchestrated by the Centro s leader, Chencha, speaking as the medium for the voice of General Francisco Villa. The fiesta has been described by the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz as a public celebration that sanctions transgression and subversion of the status quo. During PAGE 26 16 Latino American Literature in the Classroomthe fiesta, participants can assume alternate identities and disrupt the otherwise rigid hierarchies of class, race, and gender.

The visit to the spiritist center is pivotal. It even moves beyond that of comadres, which in Mexico, particularly in rural areas, is still marked by a certain distance and formality although it is structured to not only allow for but encourage relationships among women that transgress class divisions.

Gone is the seamless literariness of the previous section. In its place are stop-and-start dialogues and moments of authorial interruption offering interpretations of events only to later put those interpretations into question. By the end of Part Two, Translated Woman is a fragmented, multivoiced text. Through the events described in these chapters, Behar begins to see how Esperanza s historias fit into the fuller context of her life Behar, Translated Woman She also gains a broader understanding of how their relationship fits into the contexts of anthropology as a discipline, U.

Interestingly, as fuller contexts are developed, what ensues is a greater degree of disorder, rather than order. This reflects a discernable uneasiness in Behar and, by extension, in the reader as we become complicitous in Behar s project as consumers of her book. This heightened anxiety regarding positionalities, power relations, and contradictions reflects Edward Said s observation that it seems a common human failing to prefer the schematic authority of a text to the disorientation of encounters with the human Said The complexity of what it means to have one woman, from north of the border, gather and translate another woman s story for circulation del otro lado is reproduced thematically and stylistically in these chapters.

The assertion that Translated Woman as a text moves from order to disorder, paralleling the maturing relationship between the two women, is also indicative of Behar s struggle in relinquishing rather than solidifying her interpretative power over Esperanza s narrative. This movement toward disorder, it must be noted, goes counter to what Clifford defines as PAGE 27 Border Crossers and Coyotes 17the approved topoi for the portrayal of the research process within the field of anthropology.

Behar inverts the more-or-less stereotypic fables of rapport [which] narrate the attainment of full participant status Clifford According to Clifford, These fables may be told elaborately or in passing, naively or ironically. They normally portray the ethnographer s early ignorance, misunderstanding, lack of contactfrequently a sort of child-like status within the culture. In the Bildungsgeschichte of the ethnography these states of innocence or confusion are replaced by adult, confident, disabused knowledge. Clifford If we take Behar s visit to the spiritist center as the pivotal event in her relationship with Esperanza, we can see that in contrast to the researcher emerging as an authority by essentially writing the dialogical nature of her work out of the text, Behar emerges as a more problematized presence.

Her privileged position as the reader of the event is brought into question. Her participation in the performance, scripted and directed by Chencha, involves gathering three pesos, from three different purses, to present as an offering. Yet because the peso had gone through a series of severe devaluations, the one peso coin had been rendered obsolete. As Behar realizes, Chencha s making her beg for three coins, whose value has been reduced to nothing due to global economic exchanges in which the United States plays a major role, inverts the relation of power between the gringa anthropologist and the other participants at the centro Rather than writing herself out of the events she seeks to interpret, Behar highlights how she cannot escape her scripted positionings.

Her interpretative authority becomes, through her own writing, suspect. The inclusion in Part Three of various anecdotes relating to photography provides for a concrete rendering of Behar and Esperanza s positioning in a history of images of the other crossing borders, a history wrought with conflict, exploitation, commodification, and an exoticizing of the other. When Behar casually mentions that she is finally able to photograph Esperanza with her calla lilies, we are invited to make the comparison between this second moment and their first encounter.

The second PAGE 28 18 Latino American Literature in the Classroomopportunity to photograph Esperanza takes place in her garden, made possible by her explicit invitation. This is in sharp contrast to Behar s first encounter with Esperanza, which also involved photography, as described in the introduction.

Behar writes, She was striking.

She held a bulging bouquet of calla lilies and seemed to me like something out of one of Diego Rivera s epic Indian woman canvases. I jumped on her as an alluring image of Mexican womanhood, ready to create my own exotic portrait of her Behar 4. There is no question that the two photo opportunities are strikingly different. The latter provides a context that is specificEsperanza is a woman in her garden, which is her source of income and tangible proof of her hard-won independence.

In contrast, the first photo totalizes, positing Esperanza as the Mexican Woman, resulting in an exoticizing and colonizing image. Yet, even this second, more contextualized photograph is problematic in that it can t escape participation in the history of photographing the other, nor can it suspend the asymmetry of power between photographer and subject and the commodification of the image. Behar s casual mention of this second photograph, and her directing the reader to the former, more obviously loaded framing seems to be a denial of how she and her work are entangled in this history.

And Behar almost succeeds in getting herself off the hook, were it not for a hyperawareness of her conflicted position, revealed in two other anecdotes relating to photography. In the chapter titled, Gringa Sings the Blues, Behar agonizes over the townspeople s perception of her and her work, and determined to be blue, asks her comadre, Tell me again what your mama said about the photographs I took of her Behar Esperanza then relates her mother s dissatisfaction with the photographs, which she feels made her look All dark with the garbage of papers around her Behar More importantly, Esperanza s mother expresses suspicion about Behar s motives.

Why do they go around taking pictures? They take them back and they make money off them. Here one s a ranchero, and they take our pictures and give them to those people who make calendars and they earn their money. And there your compadres go, too. Why do you think they re here taking photographs? Behar Esperanza s mother, Doa Nicolasa, makes her suspicions regarding PAGE 29 Border Crossers and Coyotes 19Behar s work even clearer by comparing her to two men who years earlier had offered to pay her and Esperanza for photographing them. Doa Nicolasa had refused, saying No, Seor, we are what we are, but we don t go around selling ourselves for money Behar The anecdote parallels Behar s experience a few days earlier, during a town fiesta, when a man pressured her into taking photographs of him and demanded payment.

Her reflections on the experienceI knew that my interaction with that man inscribed a certain history of Westerners photographing others, in which those others were now seizing, if not the cameras, at least some of the power involved in snapping their pictures Behar demonstrate that an awareness of the history connecting exploitation and photography, and even applauding resistance to it, does not automatically make one innocent in these exchanges, no matter how noble one s intentions.

Behar s reaction to Doa Nicolasa s indirect accusations is also revealing. She writes, I had to admit that I was impressed by Do a Nicolasa s knowledge of a market for photographs of exotic others and her resistance toward being a part of it, even if I resented being placed in the same category as the men who had stopped them on the highway. Her refusal to be objectified or commodified by men was admirable in every wayexcept when I felt implicated.

And how could I doubt that I was implicatedhadn t my first encounter with Esperanza been a photographic one? Behar Behar s unease in confronting Doa Nicolasa s interpretation of her motives for wielding a camera lies in the fact that the nature of her work places her in the slippery position of standing in opposition to the history of exploitation, but only by working within hegemonic systems that she may inadvertently be perpetuating. Further complicating this already complex set of historical relationships is Behar s approach to her work from a gendered perspective, identifying herself as a feminist anthropologist.

The relationship between the two women, and the text they collaboratively produce, are part of yet another context, that of transnational feminism. As a feminist, Behar can admire Doa Nicolasa s refusal to be objectified and commodified by men and can even claim to identify with the two women; but because her work places her on the opposite side of the lens, her position is more closely aligned with that of the male photographers. Behar is then negotiating yet another slippery space that carries its own dangers.

PAGE 30 20 Latino American Literature in the ClassroomChandra Talpade Mohanty has pointed out that certain Western feminist practices engage in a form of discursive colonization that invokes an appropriation and commodification of scholarship and knowledge about women in the Third World by employing particular analytic categories which take as their referent feminist interests as they have been articulated in the U. Behar demonstrates a keen awareness of this potential for colonizing, the seductive lure of positing Third World women as the mirror image of First World feminists, where we can see ourselves through distortions as implicitly educated, modern, as having control of [our] own bodies and sexualities, and the freedom to make [our] own decisions Mohanty Behar identifies contradictions in Esperanza s stories that are irreconcilable with her own feminism.

She finds beating her daughteronce for not telling her about her half-brother making sexual advances, and another time for not giving her a share of her earnings as a maidintelligible, yet nonetheless problematic. Esperanza s beating of the woman who was having an affair with her husband is equally, if not more, troubling to Behar. And Esperanza s participation in the spiritist cult venerating the super-macho figure of Pancho Villa is given a great deal of attention, including a variety of interpretations that ultimately seem to be exercises demonstrating Behar s need to fit the pieces neatly together.

What Behar comes to realize is that a life is rarely a well wrought urn, and when interpretive paradigms cross bordersbe they cultural, geographic, racial, or economicthe inadequacy of those paradigms is either brought into question, or quite simply the pieces are forced to fit, at any cost. Behar chooses the former, aiming to work the dialectic between Esperanza s no-name feminism and my feminism of too many names, to go beyond the search for heroines on either side of the border Behar This approach enables her to question her own authority over interpretation and ask From whose perspective, whose absolute scale of feminist perfection, are her attitudes and actions being measured?

She can even conclude, That I can now call myself a feminist ethnographer and this book a work of feminist ethnography does not mean, however, that I am more of a feminist than Esperanza. If anything I am less of a feminist, I who have sought to see the patriarchy in Esperanza s life through the lens of a patriarchal discipline, I who have crossed the border as an employee of a patriarchal academic corporation, I who PAGE 31 Border Crossers and Coyotes 21have been so generously patronized by the inheritances of men who in their lifetimes made enough money to create foundations in their names.

Behar By questioning her own positionality, Behar is engaging in a critique of objectivity and by extension a critique of scholarship itself. She is, like other feminist scholars described by Lila Abu-Lughod, reclaim[ing] and redefin[ing] objectivity to mean precisely the situated view. There is no such thing as a study which is not situated, [she] would argue AbuLughod Something about having your belongings open for inspection.

Something about having to declare who you are, what country you owe allegiance to. Something about having to pretend your identity is not already in question Behar Behar s self-consciousness allows her to see how her own practices entangle her in webs of betrayal seeking out intimacy and friendship with subjects on whose backs, ultimately, the books will be written upon which productivity in the academic marketplace will be assessed Behar Sliding back and forth between languages, cultures, national borders, and ideologies, Behar becomes, along with Esperanza, a translated woman.

But, unlike Esperanza, she is the translator, and as such must confront the all too present danger of becoming a Malinche.

Hispanic Culture in USA

Referred to as the tongue, Malintzn, or Malinche, was Hernan Cortez s concubine and translator. Contemporary Mexican and Chicana feminists have offered alternative interpretations of this enigmatic woman, what she represents, and how she is represented, but the associations between traddutora, traditora are still close to the surface. Behar s questioning of her own overdetermined feminism of too many names, however, as a strategy of resistance, by itself, is still an incomplete recognition of Esperanza s no-name feminism.

Acknowledging this, Behar does articulate Esperanza s feminism, even as she admits her inability to make it compatible with her own. First and foremost, Behar facilitates Esperanza s story, mediated as it is, so that as readers we may draw our own interpretations. She also offers interpretations of Esperanza s life story that recognize her difference and point out how apparently paradoxical positions such as Esperanza s appropriation of culturally male values that oppress her as well as other women in order to liberate and redeem herself can also be interpreted as feminist practices in that Esperanza s struggle to define herself, through gender and in spite of gender, ambiguously gendered rather than passively gendered, points the way to the possibility of true gender transformation.

So does her struggle to make herself whole, to be self and other, woman and man, in the face of metonymic representation that would reduce her to the insignificant partness of being only a subjugated female. Behar Esperanza s performance of motherhood can also be interpreted as feminist practice. In a culture that formulates motherhood as the only means, for a woman, of attaining recognition, Esperanza resists sentimentalizing her role as a mother.

For forcing her son out of her house, she is perceived by the other townspeople, particularly the women, as a bad mother. Ironically, as Esperanza reveals to Behar, she kicks her son out of the house to protect her daughter, whom he was molesting. By valorizing her daughter over her son, Esperanza transforms motherhood into an act of resistance, and for that, she pays a price. Perhaps Esperanza s feminism is most clearly seen in her embracing of coraje, an emotion similar to rage. It is this coraje that Esperanza cites as motivation for telling her story, and she advises her comadre Behar to write what she wants, but with coraje.

This emotion, powerful enough to dry up her milk when she was nursing one of her children, gave her the strength to leave her husband. It also gave her the courage to refuse to keep quiet about the violence that was enacted upon her body by her father and her husband. And for this she also pays a price. Thus, although Esperanza s feminism has no name, it is certainly one that has made her not only a survivor, but an agent of change within her own life, and an influence on Behar, the feminist of too many names as well.

She writes, My comadre taught me quite a lot about expressing coraje. There s PAGE 33 Border Crossers and Coyotes 23plenty of coraje here, about being a woman, about anthropology, about United States policy toward undocumented Mexicans; some of the coraje is my comadre s, some of it is mine, and some of it belongs to both of us Behar xii. The metamorphosis of Esperanza s story as it is mediated by the editing process, translation, and border crossings, as well as Behar s own role in this transformation, are explored in Translated Woman.

The following lines, taken from the chapter titled Literary Wetback, illustrate Behar s struggle with her own role as the transporter of Esperanza s story: Just as rural Mexican laborers export their bodies for labor on American soil, Esperanza has given me her story for export only. Her story, she realizes, is a kind of commodity that will have a value on the other side that it doesn t have at home; why else would I be using up my life to write about her life? She has chosen to be a literary wetback, and I am to act as her literary broker, the border-crosser who will take her story to the other side and make it heard in translation.

The question will be whether I can act as her literary broker without becoming the worse kind of coyote, getting her across, but only by exploiting her lack of power to make it to el otro lado any other way. Behar In these lines, Esperanza s story becomes the wetback, leaving Behar the role of coyote, a role from which she instinctively tries to distance herself.

Her first auto-defining label is that of literary broker, which carries far lighter ethical baggage than the despised coyote. Her next association, found later in the chapter, while assumed in full recognition of its irony and problematic implications, is that of literary prince for Esperanza, promising a Cinderella ending to her story by turning it into print Behar This association comes from Esperanza s own expectations of her story finding a sympathetic audience del otro lado, something she knows she cannot expect from her own community in Mexquitic, which labels her a witch and otherwise judges her harshly.

But even literary prince is discarded and the association with the coyote reasserts itself as Behar observes that Crossing the border by means of her story offers a hope for liberationthe remaking of herself in her PAGE 34 24 Latino American Literature in the Classroomown imagebut that hope is embedded in the understanding that Mexicans are treated harshly and cruelly in the same place she hopes her other self will unfold.

The terms of exchange are neither transparent nor easy for Esperanza, and they are not for me either Behar The terms of exchange these lines allude to, while not transparent, are nonetheless real. For Behar, these terms of exchange solidly link her to the coyote. After all, she does stand to profit from the border crossing by way of professional advancement.


Accepting the association with the coyote as part of these terms is not easy. This identification is particularly resonant given Behar s own positional relationship, as a Cuban American, Jewish woman, to academia. She too is, in a way different from Esperanza s story and Mexican laborers, a trespasser. She is not entirely the gringa anthropologist but still a documented participant in the hegemonic discursive area known as academia. It is this articulation of her position as both documented and trespasser that Behar explores in the final chapter of Translated Woman.

It is interesting that much of the criticism of the book has centered on controversy regarding this very chapter, titled Biography in the Shadow. The chapter s opening lines bear the tone of a forced confession: Okay, so technically speaking, Im not a gringa. Im Cubana, born in Cuba, raised in a series of noisy apartments in the sad boroughs of Queens, New York, that smelled of my mother s sofrito Behar It goes on to detail her progression into a position of authority, namely that of an academic, including a specific account of her acquisition of tenure.

The first part of the chapter, which is essentially Behar s writing back to her professors, bears similarities to other texts of anthropology and ethnography, primarily Jos Limn s Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas and Renato Rosaldo s Culture and Truth Both also argue that their perspectives as Chicanos and border subjects cannot be considered as falling outside of their work. Thus, Behar s inclusion of an account of her experience in acquiring a formal educa- PAGE 35 Border Crossers and Coyotes 25tion, and even her overt discussion of her own position in relation to her work, do not make her work exceptional.

Rather, they align it with some of the work currently being produced by cultural critics whose research overlaps with, and in many ways defines, Border Theory. This categorization allows us to observe the multiple characteristics of displacement. While it is well understood that these notions are practically indissoluble and closely related to each other, this theoretical disaggregation exercise aims at providing providing through a dialectic simulation a much deeper analytical comprehension.

Therefore, there is a need to reveal those apparently hidden aspects. They are usually found in political, symbolic and psychological processes and disguise different types of violence of crucial importance for the understanding of the displacement of popular classes from the central and peri-central areas of Latin American cities.

This section aims at exploring empirically the processes of accumulation by habitat dispossession, which have been discussed theoretically thus far. This analytical procedure consists in understanding the logics of five types of displacement that generate dispossession. However, this section begins with a brief introduction to the spaces on which this empirical analysis is based. The sites of displacement that inspire the subsequent tipification differ in size, location, housing density and social complexity.

However, they have experienced widespread territorial reconfigurations, as well as and the resulting displacement of subjectivities associated to popular classes over the last 15 years. The analysis of Buenos Aires is focused on three different areas that converge on the valorization of urban space related to the cultural heritage embodied by Tango.

These areas are located near the former central market Abasto and some areas of San Telmo and La Boca, located in the southern parts of the city. This space can be found in a peri-urban area that is currently being re-developed to attract upper-middle and upper classes; this example provides clues on the logics that operate when the city is transformed as the result of the organization of major sports events.

While the first place is characterized for becoming a real estate enclave for higher-income groups; the second area is a popular and informally constructed space that has been drawing the attention of both public and private actors. In Mexico City, displacement can be defined as the "dispossession of architectural heritage". Its key element consists of the valorization of the heritage of the historic city center, which consists of more than 9, buildings -1, of them listed as historic or artistic heritage This implies the intent of displacing low-income households from the area.

However, as it is an ongoing process, popular classes still coexist in the area. From a material perspective, this process is associated with the plans of Mexican investor Carlos Slim, who purchased and remodeled a series of hhistorically and symbolically important buildings to serve as educational and cultural institutions, museums, hotels, cafes, restaurants or provide accommodation to students, artists or even politicians, thus displacing previous dwellers The second consequence has been the displacement of users from public space; particularly important is the case of street vendors, whose number was estimated at 30, at the beginning of the century.

In this case, informal vendors who operated in adjacent public space have been materially evicted and there have also been attempts to evacuate traders from different areas of the market. Such a material displacement is closely related to the implementation of policies intended to transform public spaces through security and sanitation measures and the eviction of uses that may hinder the capital return of investment.

In this context, the consulting firm owned by former NY Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was commissioned to develop a strategic security plan for the historical center. This initiative involves tight control of public space through video surveillance and permanent police presence. Likewise, a series of public policies have been implemented to prevent street vendors from operating in these spaces. This activity was first declared as illegal and then materially evicted through a military-like police operation in October, It is worth mentioning the role played by the "Historical City Center Trust", which contributed to the reorganization of vehicular traffic, investment in public spaces and the refurbishment of buildings.

While the material displacement process has been hindered and challenged by the specific reality of neighborhood organization and the historic occupation of space, the dispositive of accumulation by dispossession of architectural heritage has generated some important disputes and uneven spaces. When understood as a symbolic process, displacement implies the necessity of capital to apply subtle and indirect eviction of popular subjectivities from the historic center.

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This is especially true when there is a potential for the development of tourism and recreational activities for non-resident individuals since they implicate diametrically opposite ways to appropriate space. In Buenos Aires, the observed displacement may be characterized as the dispossession of cultural heritage.

Unlike the previous case, this refers to an immaterial heritage, which is the origin of the material process of displacement: Tango, which was inscribed to the list of intangible heritage of the UNESCO in Although the related dispossession occurs in different spaces and in different moments of the recent urban history, it has in common the expulsion of the most vulnerable dwellers, for instance occupiers of previously abandoned buildings.

It is worth noting that the Abasto area was already being promoted back in the s; such an initiative included the renovation of the market, thus becoming the largest shopping center in the city. Additionally, investment in the construction of a hotel, a huge supermarket and apartment blocks with approximately 1, flats took place. In parallel to this, tenants of adjacent properties were displaced to peripheral urban areas This process also involved the transformation of the real estate market. Today, San Telmo is the ideal place for the provision of short or mid-term tourism accommodation.

Finally, La Boca witnessed the construction of a series of loft apartment buildings in an attempt to attract artists. Likewise, there has been some kind of material violence in the form of forced eviction, such as fire caused by "officially" unknown and ignored reasons and other forced relocation The experimented displacement has been orchestrated in a very subtle way as a political process. To some degree, traditional planning methods were applied to guarantee the profit of investments.

This is the case in the Abasto area, where legislative changes enabled the new use for the abandoned market, as well as higher buildings in the surrounding area. In San Telmo, this political process focused on municipal renovation plans; as for La Boca, the stimulus came in the form of tax exemptions for cultural-oriented real estate investment in order to attract designers, artists and other processes of gentrification These three cases share the valuation of Tango and its intangible heritage. In the case of Abasto there is the economic appropriation of a brand through the marketing of items associated with Tango legend Carlos Gardel The strategies designed in the cases of San Telmo and La Boca are directly related to Tango routes such as Caminito La Boca , which is a focal point for tourist activity.

Likewise, it is possible to observe the creation of State-owned cultural institutions intended to promote this emerging transformation and place these disputed spaces on the cultural agenda. In material terms, there is an ongoing change in the social composition of these three neighborhoods which, though slow, is constantly progressing and permanently displacing dwellers. In symbolic terms, these strategies modified the use of space and contributed to the predominance of tourist-related activities. This process can be referred to as a dispossession of popular culture that involves different displacement processes that are closely related to the capital circuits of valuation and the regulation of subliminal conflicts, thus generating two types of symbolic violence, i tourist violence and ii cultural violence.

The implementation of new aesthetics associated with the external appropriation of cultural heritage can be perceived as a strategy that generates a sense of otherness and symbolic violence as the result of the commodification of hypothetical cultural assets of a given population. Such a strategy has reconfigured the public space in material and symbolic terms, thus forcing the partial displacement of popular subjectivities and generating a series of disputes ranging from a psychological and social field to the material and legal terrain.

Rio de Janeiro is a unique case where long-term urban reconfiguration is promoted through the expansion of the capitalist markets into spaces of social, economic and territorial organization which were previously structured by alternative accumulative processes. This is also an example of a type of displacement triggered by the dispossession of citizenship rights. In order to better understand the material processes, particular attention should be given to the morphology and social geography of the city, as well as the extraordinarily high income disparity between the rich and the poor.

As a material expression of this segregation, it should be taken into account that many favelas are located close to the places with the highest land values of the city, such as some of the "morros" hills with beach view In central areas, more than 40 percent of the population lives in favelas; this implies that popular culture is a common feature of daily urban life 37 , which is in contrast with the situation of other cities with different segregation patterns.

The relation between the formal and the informal city is at the very heart of the displacement as a material process. However, it requires a considerable support by public policies which, in the case of Rio de Janeiro, consist in the implementation of major urban renovation projects, extreme security strategies and the organization of international sports events; the idea here is to create mechanisms and mitigate a permanent "state of exception" These mechanisms involve new models of citizenship and an authoritarian, business-oriented planning regime that deprives favela inhabitants from their citizenship rights and dispossesses in some cases from their right to property.

The establishment of control goes hand in hand with exceptional citizenship regimes, and it has involved serious restrictions to civil rights It is worth pointing out that police forces have been repeatedly accused of using severe violence and killing about 1, favela dwellers every year All of the above strategies are not exclusively related to political processes but also to symbolic displacement processes since, apart from being subject to material violence, favela dwellers are victims of symbolic and psychological violence.

These major social, material and political changes aim at regulating the behavior of the undesired population and relocating them to a materially and symbolically distant space, away from middle and upper classes. These arguments are intended to create a symbolically legitimate reason to materially eradicate these groups. This case also reveals the different psychological harassment strategies used by the State to divide families, generate disputes among neighbors and, ultimately, destroy a community that defended its right to inhabit this area.

However, there may be some racial motivations behind the implementation of these measures, especially as the application of exceptional regimes of citizenship targets in practical, symbolic and psychological terms the expulsion of inhabitants of only very specific spaces and local communities. Santiago de Chile can be defined as a specific example of the return of capital to the central areas of a city, whose dispossession processes may be referred to as displacement of ground rent For instance, the Municipality of Santiago doubled its real estate stock within a ten-year period 43 and, since , the 11 central and peri-central municipalities have accounted for three-fifths of construction permits A part of this residential development stems from private universities, which have been important actors on the real estate market Regarding the mechanisms of displacement, a growing accumulation of the potential ground rent by a small group of large investors has been documented Likewise, a considerable number of tenants have been displaced from central areas as the result of the exponential increase in housing prices.

This process is closely related to public policies, especially when it comes to social housing programs that grant public subsidies for the purchase of land and dwellings. These measures laid the foundations for the commodification of social housing, which is strictly based on the use of economic criteria to determine the place of residence. This model involves the social and spatial reorganization of the metropolitan area and the subsequent displacement of lower-income families to housing developments located in peri-urban areas.


The "back-to-the-center" trend is thus an example of how a business-oriented urban planning favors private investment within a liberal economy. The allocation of public subsidies to buy apartments aimed at attracting dwellers with a purchase power that corresponds, amongst others, to new middle-classes or young professional. It contributes to the emancipation of households by creating a specific residential market that is very prominent for the typology of newly constructed apartments Likewise, the liberalization of planning procedures and especially the permissive legislation on the maximum altitude of buildings , has been promoting the vast densification of the central areas, with apartment tower rising up to 35 floors.

However, the State remains silent when it comes to the suitability of these dwellings in terms of urbanity. When understood as a symbolic process, displacement depends on the deterioration and abandonment of existent dwellings resulting from the "creative destruction" described above. Capitalist reproduction generates new goods that facilitate efficiently accumulation processes. Likewise, with the support of a State that paradoxically "regulates" the absence of legislative frameworks, densification evolves into an irregular territorial occupation, thus generating symbolic architectural violence.

By combining the principle of maximum benefit with minimum investment as an exercise of ultra-neoliberal economies, it is possible to observe the emergence of severe symbolic violence of a kind of urbanism that psychologically affects the population, provoking the displacement of popular subjectivities. Quito is associated with a type of displacement related to the social and organizational changes generated by the adoption of a new Constitution that clearly modified the relationships between capital and society.

However, the emergence of new political subjectivities and the expansion of public policies over the last decade do not mean that there has been no displacement process.