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Accepted Paper:

Vigilance and subjectivation in the US-Mexican borderlands  
Jonathan Alderman (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

The vigilant response of residents of Barrio Logan in San Diego to unwanted infrastructural development challenged quotidian coloniality and contributed to their subjectivity as Chicanos, defined by the US-Mexican borderland that they inhabit.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines how coloniality shapes lifeworlds in Barrio Logan in the city of San Diego in the US-Mexican borderland, and is challenged and resisted through engagement with infrastructure in ways unexpected by its planners. The Coronado Bridge, which passes over the Chicano neighbourhood of Barrio Logan and was constructed in 1969 without taking into account the views of the neighbourhood’s inhabitants, represents a physical manifestation of the coloniality that those in the neighbourhood experience on a daily basis. We draw on anthropological perspectives on infrastructure to argue that the character of infrastructure is not fixed, but is in constant flux from the moment of its construction. Residents of Barrio Logan resisted unwanted infrastructure by incorporating it into a park they subsequently constructed themselves autonomously, using the bridges supports as canvasses for murals depicting Chicano myth and history. The park represents a radical refusal to acquiesce to dominant Anglo-American hegemonic visions of belonging north of the border. The murals, depicting revolutionary Latin American figures who have resisted US imperialism in the continent assert aspirations to political equality and subvert hegemonic ideas about the US within its own borders and emphasise cultural and political connections that cross borders. We use Jacques Rancière’s concepts of subjectivation and aesthetic politics to argue that through actions contesting the coloniality of their everyday experience, resistance to dominant narratives of belonging, which themselves incorporate vigilance, have become a significant aspect of Chicano subject-formation.

Panel P108a
Transformation, hope and vigilance in borderlands I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -