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Racial Borderlands: Suburban Plantation Culture and 'Rancho California (por favor)'
Unformatted Document Text:  Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.9 I had a hard time finally celebrating the "ground-up" semiotic or imaginative resistance at work here. The physical realities in the camps--the water, the waste, the food, the plywood and plastic tarps--made me uneasy about such things. The very same irrigation water source that turned arid deserts into food factories--that brought campo labor to California in the first place--orients these camps in the muddy micro-climates of the arroyos. Clothes can be washed, water boiled, and waste dispensed with. And this liquid flow--unlike the West-coast climate--is continuous and not seasonal--guaranteed as it is by the run-off of the homes and manicured front-lawns that give these workers employment during the day. This world down in the ditches was bounded by an intricate and complicated sets of walls, fences, gates, barriers, drainage ditches, warning signs, trespassing signs, barbed-wire, unsafe water warnings, and power company signage that threatened electrocution—all of which worked to symbolically manage those down below. A performance by forces far more extensive than that of the residents, that is, also choreographed the camps. Slippery identities were also being "negotiated" by zoning boards, nearby evangelical churches, and homeowner associations. 13 Suburban culture, employers, and controlled growth advocates all used the camps as liminal spaces (for the generation and assignment of identity). To speak of one form of identity performance and "negotiation" (the migrant’s) without the other (the landed) is to shoot cultural theory in the foot; is to keep alternative media theory in its own separate comfort zone. My search for alternative forms of human agency on the ground ran into the dense set of symbolic and material boundaries that work ubiquitously to cultivate that same agency on someone else’s terms. II. Media Practice: Community Works Alternative media posits that real change comes through community interaction and participation. So I went to nearby Escondido--away from the camps proper--to help produce a participatory food security video project following yet another model for media work. Nutrition related illnesses were extensive in the Latino community. 14 My involvement with La Cosecha Nuestra (“Our Harvest”) community in Escondido developed through a series of referrals. 15 The

Authors: Caldwell, John.
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Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.9
I had a hard time finally celebrating the "ground-up" semiotic or imaginative resistance at
work here. The physical realities in the camps--the water, the waste, the food, the plywood and
plastic tarps--made me uneasy about such things. The very same irrigation water source that turned
arid deserts into food factories--that brought campo labor to California in the first place--orients
these camps in the muddy micro-climates of the arroyos. Clothes can be washed, water boiled,
and waste dispensed with. And this liquid flow--unlike the West-coast climate--is continuous and not
seasonal--guaranteed as it is by the run-off of the homes and manicured front-lawns that give these
workers employment during the day. This world down in the ditches was bounded by an intricate
and complicated sets of walls, fences, gates, barriers, drainage ditches, warning signs, trespassing
signs, barbed-wire, unsafe water warnings, and power company signage that threatened
electrocution—all of which worked to symbolically manage those down below. A performance by
forces far more extensive than that of the residents, that is, also choreographed the camps.
Slippery identities were also being "negotiated" by zoning boards, nearby evangelical churches, and
homeowner associations.
13
Suburban culture, employers, and controlled growth advocates all used
the camps as liminal spaces (for the generation and assignment of identity). To speak of one form
of identity performance and "negotiation" (the migrant’s) without the other (the landed) is to shoot
cultural theory in the foot; is to keep alternative media theory in its own separate comfort zone. My
search for alternative forms of human agency on the ground ran into the dense set of symbolic and
material boundaries that work ubiquitously to cultivate that same agency on someone else’s terms.
II. Media Practice: Community Works
Alternative media posits that real change comes through community interaction and
participation. So I went to nearby Escondido--away from the camps proper--to help produce a
participatory food security video project following yet another model for media work. Nutrition
related illnesses were extensive in the Latino community.
14
My involvement with La Cosecha
Nuestra (“Our Harvest”) community in Escondido developed through a series of referrals.
15
The


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