Internalizing Borderlands: the Performance of Borderlands Identity

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De Roover, Megan

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University of Guelph


In order to establish a working understanding of borders, the critical conversation must be conscious of how the border is being used politically, theoretically, and socially. This thesis focuses on the border as forcibly ensuring the performance of identity as individuals, within the context of borderlands, become embodiments of the border, and their performance of identity is created by the influence of external borders that become internalized. The internalized border can be read both as infection, a problematic divide needing to be removed, as well as an opportunity for bridging, crossing that divide. I bring together Charles Bowden (Blue Desert), Monique Mojica (Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots), Leslie Marmon Silko (Ceremony, Almanac of the Dead), and Guillermo Verdecchia (Fronteras Americanas) in order to develop a comprehensive analysis of the border and border identity development. In these texts, individuals are forced to negotiate their sense of self according to pre-existing cultural and social expectations on either side of the border, performing identity according to how they want to be socially perceived. The result can often be read as a fragmentation of identity, a discrepancy between how the individual feels and how they are read. I examine how identity performance occurs within the context of the border, brought on by violence and exemplified through the division between the spirit world and the material world, the manipulation of costuming and uniforms, and the body.



Borders, Borderlands, Indigeneity, Chicano/a, Identity, Performance, Transcultural, Cultural Studies, Violence, Tricksters, Witches, Shaman, Storytellers, Costuming, Uniforms, Border Patrol, Mexico/U.S., Trauma, The Body, Ideology, Gloria Anzaldua, Monique Mojica, Guillermo Verdecchia, Leslie Marmon Silko, Charles Bowden, Internalizing the Border