Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Carvalho

Abstract

This study examines how the social process of undocumented Mexican migration is interpreted in the chronicle, literature, and film of the post-Gatekeeper period, which is defined here at 1994-2008. Bounded on one side by the Mexican economic crisis of 1994, and increased border security measures begun in that same year, and on the other by the advent of the global economic crisis of 2008, the post-Gatkeeper period represents a time in which undocumented migration through the southern U.S. border reached unprecedented levels. The dramatic, tragic, and compelling stories that emerged from this period have been retold and interpreted from a variety of perspectives that have produced distinct, and often paradoxical, images of the figure of the undocumented migrant. Creative narrative responds to this critical point in the history of Mexican migration to the U.S.by applying the inherently subjective and mediated form of artistic interpretation to a social reality well documented by the media, historians, and social scientists. Throughout the chronicle, literature, and film of this period, migration is understood as a cultural tradition inspired by regional history. These stories place their undocumented protagonists on a narrative trajectory that transforms migration into a heroic quest for personal and community renewal. Such imagery positions the undocumented migrant as an active agent of change and provides discursive visibility to a figure often represented, in media and political rhetoric of the period, as an anonymous, collective Other. Filtered through this creative lens, migration is revealed as a complex social process in which individual experience is informed not only by personal ambition, but also by the expectations of the home community and its culture of migration. The creative works examined here foreground the history, motivation, and experience of their migrant protagonists in relation to the socio-historical context of this period. In doing so, they compose tales of migration in which the figure of the undocumented migrant plays a primary role, one informed not only by the experience of migration, but also by personal and community history.

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