Inflicting Wounds Whose Scars are Borders
February 1, 2009, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Chicano, Flaneurie, Ideas, Literature, Philosophy, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , ,


From Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera (1987), as quoted by Alfred Arteaga*  in Chicano Poetics: Heterotexts and Hybridities:

“The U.S.-Mexican border es una herida abierta [is an open wound] where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds.  And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country – a border culture.” (3)

When placed next to the image of a border fence in Nogales above, the words in each citation seem to make their meaning all the more truthful.  The graffiti above reads, “Borders: scars upon the earth.”  

These structures are performative signifiers of the State’s violence, a power enacting a logic of exclusion.  The fences, walls, agents, and surveillance equipment are ciphers encoding action, establishing identity, and determining the value of who can cross and who cannot.

On the one hand, the State’s constitution excludes portions of humanity to include a remainder and establish the social bond by an oath, a pledge promising the subject’s personal sacrifice for a teleological end.  The ultimate wages of transgressing against the State include surrendering the claim to membership in the community and becoming party to a non-sacrificial death: to be killed.  

On the other hand, borderlands include the excluded and the excluder alike in a relationship of tense exposure to one another where it becomes possible for language to not be sanctified, where the apparatus of the State is exposed and can be brought to question.

Image Credit: Nogales, as photographed and thoughtfully reflected upon at La Gringa Rusa Mexicana, via Citizen Orange.

*A note of gratitude to Sound Taste for bringing my attention to Alfred Arteaga in a moving tribute to his memory.


1 Comment so far
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Powerfully said.

Comment by tomc

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