This autoethnography recounts the process of developing my own agency out of a borderland lifeworld formed in multiple geographic sites. I use self-reflection and research to make explicit a functional inbetween space where I belong. Through Gloria Anzaldúa’s work, literature from border and cultural studies, identity formation and my own qualitative research, I analyze the complexities of this space.
The narratives presented illustrate a spectrum of belonging and of alienation, unpredictable and frequent mobility, and unrecognized loss. I crossed the border from the U.S. to Mexico daily to attend first grade. I learned differing cultural rules and developed tolerance for ambiguity. In Mexico City at nine, I fluctuated between being Mexican and an expat. At thirteen, nearly a Mexican teen, I moved to the U.S. After two years, I added a rural, Midwestern, US identity before returning to my birthplace in urban California.
As an adult, reflexive action resulted in a sudden awareness of an encompassing image: an internal convivial borderland ambiance around and between my distinct cultural identities. This holistic redefinition gave open access to my border person identity and mindset. It made available rich and ample resources for bridging political, social, organizational and individual boundaries in all aspects of my life.
My story and its analysis offer an alternative to categorical identity norms with a single belonging place. Sharing these possibilities contributes to understanding the knowledge base, abilities and skills available to border people and those with multipart cultural identities whose numbers are increasing in a globalized world.
This article was presented at the The Fourth Asian Conference on Cultural Studies in Osaka, Japan May 31, 2014
- Conference Theme: Borderlands of Becoming, Belonging and Sharing
Local, national and global cultures have been transformed by an intensification of human migration, mobility and multi-culture with multiple and complex claims of home, identity and belonging. Gloria Anzaldua’s idea of the borderland has become a critical conceptual rubric used by cultural researchers as a way of understanding, explaining and articulating the in-determined, vague, ambiguous nature of everyday life and the cultural politics of border-knowledge, border crossings, transgression, living in-between and multiple belongings. Borderlands is also about a social space where people of diverse backgrounds and identities meet and share a space in which the politics of co-presence and co-existence are experienced and enacted in mundane ways. This conference, which focuses on the borderlands of becoming, belonging and sharing, is therefore about examining how the culture of everyday life is regulated and contested across diverse political, economic and social contexts, and whether and how it creates spaces of belonging with others.
The aim of this conference theme is to open up discussion, critical reflection and analysis about emerging social, political and cultural identities that are formed at the intersection of multiple and multi-sited belongings and their expression and about the possibility of making them shared across differences.
The article is published in the The IAFOR Academic Review | Volume 1 | Issue 4