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Racial Borderlands: Suburban Plantation Culture and 'Rancho California (por favor)'
Unformatted Document Text:  Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.8 evident here said much more about labor conditions and preoccupations up in the suburbs, arguably, than about programming tastes of the migrants that watched them down below. The fact that discarded video imagery about media marketing, domestic pet care, and luxury housing tracts circulated down in the mud, however, also underscores the possibility that those on the bottom rung of any racial ladder know much more about those at the top, than vice-versa. Hand-made media on these margins rarely migrated to the top of the hillsides. One of the downsides of alternative media approaches that are based upon austere, macroscopic models of political economy is that they are prone to ignore the intimate, imaginative dimensions that any individual brings to his or her community. Big-picture talk about economy and globalization, for example, tends to deny the sheer force of very personal (and sometimes empowering) forms of imagination. Taking this as a premise, a fourth working premise of mine was to find and consider any examples of indigenous iconography (vernacular art-forms that some might deem “outsider art”). 12 Appreciating this kind of imaginative imagery by lay artists makes it difficult to ignore the expressive power, and resistant potential, of those most subjugated. An imaginative dimension existed in almost every home and shed: drawings, collage, and tagged-art. Incredibly detailed journey narratives visually highlighted various epic migrations from Oaxaca and Guatemala. Sensitively spray-painted images of women adorned the lumbered facades of the mostly male camps. Collages that mixed Catholic iconography (patron saints, the Last Supper, the Virgin of Guadalupe) with commercial advertisements (for cars, women’s clothes, and landscapes) abounded. Migrants worked with markers, paint, collage, stencils, and bas-relief to individuate their tiny homes and make-shift shelters in extremely personal ways. Together, these images wrote a different history of the camps; one that offered narratives of long journeys, sadness, and lost loves. This camp iconography was loaded with nostalgia, longing, dreams and desire. Each journey narrative, however, no matter how sensitive or loaded with cultural promise, eventually fell victim to obliteration by bulldozers or abatement crews.

Authors: Caldwell, John.
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Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.8
evident here said much more about labor conditions and preoccupations up in the suburbs,
arguably, than about programming tastes of the migrants that watched them down below. The fact
that discarded video imagery about media marketing, domestic pet care, and luxury housing tracts
circulated down in the mud, however, also underscores the possibility that those on the bottom rung
of any racial ladder know much more about those at the top, than vice-versa. Hand-made media on
these margins rarely migrated to the top of the hillsides.
One of the downsides of alternative media approaches that are based upon austere,
macroscopic models of political economy is that they are prone to ignore the intimate, imaginative
dimensions that any individual brings to his or her community. Big-picture talk about economy and
globalization, for example, tends to deny the sheer force of very personal (and sometimes
empowering) forms of imagination. Taking this as a premise, a fourth working premise of mine was
to find and consider any examples of indigenous iconography (vernacular art-forms that some might
deem “outsider art”).
12
Appreciating this kind of imaginative imagery by lay artists makes it difficult to
ignore the expressive power, and resistant potential, of those most subjugated. An imaginative
dimension existed in almost every home and shed: drawings, collage, and tagged-art. Incredibly
detailed journey narratives visually highlighted various epic migrations from Oaxaca and
Guatemala. Sensitively spray-painted images of women adorned the lumbered facades of the
mostly male camps. Collages that mixed Catholic iconography (patron saints, the Last Supper, the
Virgin of Guadalupe) with commercial advertisements (for cars, women’s clothes, and landscapes)
abounded. Migrants worked with markers, paint, collage, stencils, and bas-relief to individuate their
tiny homes and make-shift shelters in extremely personal ways. Together, these images wrote a
different history of the camps; one that offered narratives of long journeys, sadness, and lost loves.
This camp iconography was loaded with nostalgia, longing, dreams and desire. Each journey
narrative, however, no matter how sensitive or loaded with cultural promise, eventually fell victim to
obliteration by bulldozers or abatement crews.


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