American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2017


This dissertation develops the trope of an ethnographic aesthetic to dissect the cultural production of Jovita González, Américo Paredes, and more recent works by Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Lourdes Portillo. The dissertation argues that Texas-Mexican cultural production actively produces knowledge. In other words, when understood within the framework of ethnographic aesthetics, Texas-Mexican border cultural anticipates and imagines local futures in a constant shifting colonial space. Texas-Mexico border cultural production is not passive or residual but is in fact active and emergent.

The dissertation situates Texas-Mexico border cultural production as responding to and within post-national American Studies discourse that “stresses the ways different cultures are transformed by their contact and interaction with each other” (28). This contact occurs in what John Carlos Rowe terms “contact zones,” which are “semiotic sites where exchanges may occur from both (or more) sides, even when the configurations of power are inequitable (as they usually are)” (28). The texts in this project react to and against social, racial, and economic shifts occurring in border contact zones while simultaneously inventing and imagining new social orders

This dissertation proposes an Ethnographic Aesthetic as a model that expands on the notion of ethnographic poetics. In addition to offering ways of reading indigenous literary forms, my model is one that illustrates different ways border cultural production actively invents and constructs cultural identities, voices, dialogues, and styles that are never static but fluid, as with border culture in general.




Cultural Poduction, Chicano/a Studies, Borderlands, Literature, Folklore, Ethnography

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

A. Gabriel Meléndez

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Schreiber

Third Committee Member

Michael L. Trujillo

Fourth Committee Member

Samuel Truett