The 2012-2013 University of Washington Mellon Sawyer Seminar on the Borderlands builds upon the work of a multi-year, multi-disciplinary collective. The Sawyer Seminar undertakes an interdisciplinary exploration of Borderlands, understood as the contact zones, imagined geographies, and discourses that produce both order and violence.

Taking as our point of departure Gloria Anzaldua’s influential characterization of borderlands (small “b”) as historically and spatially specific sites and Borderlands (capital “B”) as ideological projects, the UW Borderlands project contributes to a comparative and interdisciplinary understanding of the political and cultural power of boundaries and boundary-crossings. With Anzaldua, we are concerned with the complexities of multiple Borderlands that characterize the politics of belonging in national states, diasporic and Indigenous communities, and even the domains of nature and society.

This project seeks to shed light on how borders and both seen and not seen, with special attention to the themes of border-making practices, gendered violence, and Indigenous perspectives on borders. More concretely, it also hopes to remap the Borderlands of scholarly production at the University of Washington by generating sustained interdisciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration across the humanities and social sciences, and between undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty.

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Recent Posts

“Abajo Los Chinos:” Race and the Public Sphere in Revolutionary Mexico

Jason Chang
History and Asian American Studies
University of Connecticut

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
4:00 pm
Communications 120

“Abajo Los Chinos”: Race and the Public Sphere in Revolutionary Mexico

When the Mexican republic erupted in revolution in 1910, its competing leaders often used the language of mestizo nationalism to rally supporters. References to a populist mestizo nationalism gestured towards the emergence of the democratic principles of a public sphere. Historians have attributed the success of revolutionary Mexican nationalism to state ideologies of mestizaje and populist agrarian reforms. However, the history of Mexico’s anti-Chinese politics reveals that racism has played an unappreciated role in the creation of a public sphere in which the common good of mestizos became thinkable. In this lecture, JasonChang details the ways that racial violence, anti-Chinese organizations, and racist policies contributed to the expansion of mestizo nationalism. This revisionist history highlights the ways that race was an essential technology of state formation that undergirded the transformation of rule and consent after the revolution.

Combining Asian American Studies and Latin American Studies, Jason Chang’s research focuses on the history of Asian diasporas in the Americas and the different systems of race and gender they encounter and become a part of. These histories of migration, settlement and racialization are representative of his interests in the broader geo-historical formations that have linked Asia and the Americas since the sixteenth century.

Presented as part of B/ordering Violence: Boundaries, Gender, Indigeneity in the Americas, a John E. Sawyer Seminar in Comparative Cultures generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and co-sponsored by the Latin American & Caribbean Studies program, the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, the Simpson Center for the Humanities, and the Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, & Sexuality (WISER).

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