2023 Finalist Best Academic Themed Book, College Level – English, International Latino Book Awards
A contemplative exploration of cultural representations of Mexican American fathers in contemporary media.
As a young girl growing up in Houston, Texas, in the 1980s, Domino Perez spent her free time either devouring books or watching films—and thinking, always thinking, about the media she consumed. The meaningful connections between these media and how we learn form the basis of Perez's “slow" research approach to race, class, and gender in the borderlands. Part cultural history, part literary criticism, part memoir, Fatherhood in the Borderlands takes an incisive look at the value of creative inquiry while it examines the nuanced portrayal of Mexican American fathers in literature and film.
Perez reveals a shifting tension in the literal and figurative borderlands of popular narratives and shows how form, genre, and subject work to determine the roles Mexican American fathers are allowed to occupy. She also calls our attention to the cultural landscape that has allowed such a racialized representation of Mexican American fathers to continue, unopposed, for so many years. Fatherhood in the Borderlands brings readers right to the intersection of the white cultural mainstream in the United States and Mexican American cultural productions, carefully considering the legibility and illegibility of Brown fathers in contemporary media.
Domino Renee Perez is an associate professor in the department of English and the Center for Mexican American Studies at UT Austin. She is the author of There Was a Woman: La Llorona from Folklore to Popular Culture and coeditor of Race and Cultural Practice in Popular Culture.
Fatherhood in the Borderlands is a true joy to read--a page turner! The autoethnographic, epistemic, and creative space of the author’s storytelling; the theorizing; and the deep and engaged readings of key film and literary texts in the Chicanx borderlands pantheon of creative/cultural production are all beautifully realized. Perez’s book will be a huge hit.
~Arturo J. Aldama, University of Colorado Boulder, author of Disrupting Savagism: Intersecting Chicana/o, Mexican Immigrant, and Native American Struggles for Representation
This book is personal and necessary. Domino Perez makes a disrupting gesture with Fatherhood in the Borderlands that is deliberate and thoughtful. It is a bold decision to make it a many-faceted work—there is no other book like Perez’s, with its amalgam of beautiful insights and tremendous depth.
~Christopher González, Southern Methodist University, author of Permissible Narratives: The Promise of Latino/a Literature
Fatherhood in the Borderlands is an important work for all scholars. Perez not only offers varied contributions to Mexican American studies but also presents an attitude towards scholarship that we should all consider adopting . . . In this sense, a slow approach to research is one that values personal investment and imaginative recreation. When our work ethic is too fast and too efficient, we drive by these possibilities. We forget the pleasure of slowing down to enjoy the view, and we forget the virtue looking back on the road that brought us here.
This resonates strongly with my own work on fathering, which has returned over the years to the work of British psychiatrist D. W. Winnicott, who argued for 'good enough' parenting that created facilitating environments (what he called "potential spaces") for children. Fatherhood in the Borderlands teaches me to create those kinds of environments for my children, and Perez's slow scholarship suggests that first I must do so for myself.
~Journal of Latin American Geography
Preface: The Slow Lowdown
Introduction: A Slow Approach to Fathers and Other Fictions
Part I. Sourcing Authority
Film: Ancianos not Abuelos: Making Space and Mediating Male Power
Personal Narrative: “No, I Am Your Father”
Literature: Fathers and Racialized Masculinities in Luis Alberto Urrea’s In Search of Snow
Part II. Instrumentalizing Indigeneity
Personal Narrative: Nobody Ever Said We Were Aztecs
Film: Fatherhood, Chicanismo, and the Cultural Politics of Healing in La Mission
Literature: New Tribalism and Chicana/o Indigeneity in the Work of Gloria Anzaldúa
Part III. Fantasmas and Fronteras
Literature: Fathers, Sons, and Other (Short) Fictions
Film: Meta and Mutant Fathers
Personal Narrative: Family Fictions and Other Lies about the Truth
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