Imagining the border and Southern spaces: Cinematic explorations of race and gender
Author: Mains, Susan
Source: GeoJournal, Volume 59, Number 4, January 2004 , pp. 253-264(12)
Abstract:For some time the US-Mexico border has been a symbol – and site – of conflict, collaboration, and transnational mobility. Related to the border, the topic of undocumented immigration, and Mexican migrants in particular, has received considerable attention in US mainstream media. Cinema in particular, provides a context for producing and interrogating discourses of nationalism, nativism, and fear. The cinematic examples I draw on illustrate an ongoing fear (and terror) about borders and border crossing of various forms. In this paper I explore how narratives of borders and nationhood are mapped onto immigrant bodies and border spaces through specific filmic representations. In order to undertake this study I focus on three cinematic examples exploring immigration at the US-Mexico border – Touch of Evil, The Border and Lone Star. I examine how concepts of borders, race, and gender, and tropes of ‘The South’ are reterritorialized around immigrant bodies and specific locales. I argue that an inability to control and ‘fix’ boundaries around possible ‘threats’ to specific US spaces and identities is counteracted by displacing this fear onto more easily marked targets that are viewed as posing challenges to US national (and personal) security, i.e., undocumented immigrants. At the same time, cinematic images illustrate that the threats and spaces for immigrants themselves become increasingly marginalized, blurred, and frequently erased.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2004