Indian Given: Racial Geographies across Mexico and the United States
María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University and the author of
Losing It!: Melancholic Incorporations in Aztlán
This chapter argues the Chicana/o geography of Aztlán is produced at the crossing of the U.S. and Mexican geographies in the Southwest and as an effect of the profound psychic loss suffered by a melancholic Mexican American population forced to renounce indigenous ancestry. The chapter examines two court cases, the East L.A. Thirteen and the Biltmore Six, arguing that the defense strategy "unmapped" California's geography of racial segregation and class exclusion in order to regraph the geo of the Southwest as the political space of belonging for Mexican Americans and other disempowered minorities. The defense, lead by Oscar Zeta Acosta, summoned Mexican Americans into being as Chicana/os. The chapter analyzes Acosta's The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo to show how Chicano identity was predicated on the melancholic incorporation of the banished indio bárbaro of the borderlands. By exposing the racial violence of the Southwest and through an exploration of his own racial trauma, Acosta reclaims this racial landscape for the brown buffalo people and Aztlán.
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