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Racial Borderlands: Suburban Plantation Culture and 'Rancho California (por favor)'
Unformatted Document Text:  Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.19 projects. This cycle of travel and giving-back continues for the Mixtecos in California. 31 The tactic can also be seen as an indigenous version of globalization, one “from-the-ground-up”; something very different from the schemes imagined by free-trade, NAFTA apologists. 32 In some ways, The Frente’s projects were intended to educate other Mexican-Americans in California, as much as non- Latinos. Frequently framed by Spanish television as quaint and marginal Indians, the Frente and Mayavision organize across national borders, uninterested in notions of hemisphere-wide Hispanic identity, mestizaje, or Mexican nationalism. 33 Continually fighting their marginalization by Mexican culture as “Indians,” and by Americans as usurpers, Mixteco organizers enter the fields and work- places to invoke United States fair-labor and health and safety laws that they know well. 34 I learned from the Mixtecos that global strategies based on acute forms of racial essentialism and localism were indeed possible. But I also learned (in my mid-life as an independent producer) that truly alternative media work, might include things like the distribution of toilets and drinking water and demands for workday breaks. 35 These “revolutionary” goals may not be as grand as those imagined by the old or new left. Yet basic tactical improvements involving sewage and sanitation provided fundamental bodily benefits in the campo, nevertheless. Unruly Alternatives to Geographies of Race. In many ways documentary and alternative media makers are like academics. We tend to find what we first know to look for. I set out to find cooperative art and cultural hybridity and resistance, and found expression and creativity under the worst conditions. But I also found an extensive architecture of enclosure and monitoring on the landscape; a detailed set of coordinates that mark: insides and outsides, gateways and barriers; contact zones and no-man's lands. The camps are well kept by landowners and neighbors; through a time-tested, rural-suburban spatial aesthetic; one with roots in California several centuries old. These factors suggest that border culture does not just block off entry as politicians on both sides assume. It solicits and domesticates entry. And border culture is not just a liminal, empowering, in-between space, where

Authors: Caldwell, John.
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Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.19
projects. This cycle of travel and giving-back continues for the Mixtecos in California.
31
The tactic
can also be seen as an indigenous version of globalization, one “from-the-ground-up”; something
very different from the schemes imagined by free-trade, NAFTA apologists.
32
In some ways, The
Frente’s projects were intended to educate other Mexican-Americans in California, as much as non-
Latinos. Frequently framed by Spanish television as quaint and marginal Indians, the Frente and
Mayavision organize across national borders, uninterested in notions of hemisphere-wide Hispanic
identity, mestizaje, or Mexican nationalism.
33
Continually fighting their marginalization by Mexican
culture as “Indians,” and by Americans as usurpers, Mixteco organizers enter the fields and work-
places to invoke United States fair-labor and health and safety laws that they know well.
34
I learned
from the Mixtecos that global strategies based on acute forms of racial essentialism and localism
were indeed possible. But I also learned (in my mid-life as an independent producer) that truly
alternative media work, might include things like the distribution of toilets and drinking water and
demands for workday breaks.
35
These “revolutionary” goals may not be as grand as those imagined
by the old or new left. Yet basic tactical improvements involving sewage and sanitation provided
fundamental bodily benefits in the campo, nevertheless.
Unruly Alternatives to Geographies of Race.
In many ways documentary and alternative media makers are like academics. We tend to
find what we first know to look for. I set out to find cooperative art and cultural hybridity and
resistance, and found expression and creativity under the worst conditions. But I also found an
extensive architecture of enclosure and monitoring on the landscape; a detailed set of coordinates
that mark: insides and outsides, gateways and barriers; contact zones and no-man's lands. The
camps are well kept by landowners and neighbors; through a time-tested, rural-suburban spatial
aesthetic; one with roots in California several centuries old. These factors suggest that border
culture does not just block off entry as politicians on both sides assume. It solicits and
domesticates entry. And border culture is not just a liminal, empowering, in-between space, where


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