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Documenting the UndocumentedLatino/a Narratives and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper$
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Marta Caminero-Santangelo

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062594

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062594.001.0001

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Narrating the Non-Nation

Narrating the Non-Nation

Literary Journalism and “Illegal” Border Crossings

(p.33) 1 Narrating the Non-Nation
Documenting the Undocumented

Marta Caminero-Santangelo

University Press of Florida

This chapter considers works of literary journalism, including Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil's Highway, Rubén Martínez’s, Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, and Sonia Nazario’s, Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother. It argues that these accounts seek to counter the strident narrative of immigration as a threat to the existence of the nation by offering alternative narratives in which undocumented people are not imagined, first and foremost, as “aliens.” These texts offer counterdiscourses, reframing the story of immigration in terms that shift the focus from the borders of “our” imagined community to construct alternative notions of ethical communities. The texts employ rhetorical strategies that can be understood through Bakhtinian notions of empathy and exotopy. The narratives solicit readers both to empathize with the subjects of their narrative and to move back to their own subject positions as positions of difference—since only from our own subject positions can meaningful ethical action be undertaken. Nonetheless, these texts are also potentially constrained by the degree to which they reinstate a troubling politics of place that diffuses a sense of urgency and crisis needing address.

Keywords:   Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil’s Highway, Rubén Martínez, Crossing Over, Sonia Nazario, Enrique’s Journey, literary journalism, narrative journalism, Mikhail Bakhtin

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