(Re)Envisioning Borderlands: Towards a More Productive Paradigm
This is a theoretical essay inspired by the crisis of the central concept of American identity – the idea of the frontier – and by the belief that in a crisis lies a chance for a new beginning. Thus, the goal is to propose an image/narrative model of alternative universal borderlands. To do this I first briefly explain the notion of the frontier in American imagination. I then evoke archaic imagination and outline how the frontier and its epistemology first came into being and crossed the ocean ushering in a type of modern subjectivity. I then contrast this with local cartographies that had existed in the Americas before European contact. Together the two cartographies engender the transfrontera space. This both actual and mytho-poetic space engenders “contact subjects” and is explained by examples from works by Creole and Chicano theater artists. A third spatial imagining is then proposed after Native American storytelling and theater methodology. Circles upon circles upon circles is an epistemic/ procedural model of how the world is (re)made through stories in the Native worldview. The essay is subtly experimental: as it charts multiple spatio-subjective models it hopes to work on the imagination of the reader, to build imaginary cognitive maps and, perhaps, effect a slight shift in consciousness, taking the reader to the borderlands.