Title

Territorios

Date of Graduation

5-2019

Document Type

UAF Access Only - Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Geffrey Davis

Committee Member

Toni Jensen

Second Committee Member

Davis McCombs

Keywords

colorism, culture, race, creative writing

Abstract

This thesis—influenced by authors like James Baldwin, Gloria Anzaldúa, Claudia Rankine, and Layli Long Soldier— is a poetry/nonfiction cross genre project that examines the role of history and narrative in identity building and explores the concepts of place, borders, and liminality.

Over the course of three sections, I investigate how the narratives we are born into determine our perception of the self and the Other, especially narratives introduced during the colonization of the Americas. By using historical and mass culture references, as well as some of my own family history, I deconstruct the narratives about social and racial hierarchies that have become ingrained in culture and create context for colorism in Mexico and Latin America and anti-immigrant racism in the US. Furthermore, the organization of this thesis—within nonfiction essays and among poems—is meant to queer place, not just by constantly crossing geopolitical borders but by challenging the concept of borders itself. At the beginning of the first and third sections, for example, we enter Mexico and the US but, as we read on, location seems to change without prior warning. That is, until it becomes clear that speaker and reader are travelling on a land that that existed before borders and entry points were forcibly established. Likewise, this thesis also moves back and forth between realms— private v. public, personal v. communal, current v. historic—to blur the lines between the body and the circumstances in which it exists.

Ultimately, this thesis is a reckoning of the way unquestioned narratives affect our lives on both micro and macro levels and of how the only viable strategy of pushing back against them is by forcing them—and the most uncomfortable parts of ourselves and our pasts—to surface and be dismantled in the light.

Available for download on Friday, May 28, 2021

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