Back to top

Crossing Waters

Crossing Waters
Undocumented Migration in Hispanophone Caribbean and Latinx Literature and Art

An innovative study of the artistic representations of undocumented migration within the Hispanophone Caribbean.

Series: Latinx: The Future is Now

August 2022
Not yet published
Add to cart

Available for pre-order.
This book will be available in August 2022.
Subscribe to be notified of availability.
304 pages | 6 x 9 | 20 b&w photos, one 8 page color insert |

Debates over the undocumented migration of Latin Americans invariably focus on the southern US border, but most migrants never cross that arbitrary line. Instead, many travel, via water, among the Caribbean islands. The first study to examine literary and artistic representations of undocumented migration within the Hispanophone Caribbean, Crossing Waters relates a journey that remains silenced and largely unknown.

Analyzing works by novelists, short-story writers, poets, and visual artists, replete with references to drowning and echoes of the Middle Passage, Marisel Moreno shines a spotlight on the plight that these migrants face. In some cases, Puerto Rico takes on a new role as a steppingstone to the continental United States and the society migrants will join there. Meanwhile the land border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the only terrestrial border in the Hispanophone Caribbean, emerges as a complex space within this cartography of borders. And while the Border Patrol occupies US headlines, the Coast Guard occupies the nightmares of refugees.

An untold story filled with beauty, possibility, and sorrow, Crossing Waters encourages us to rethink the geography and experience of undocumented migration and the role that the Caribbean archipelago plays as a border zone.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Rethinking the Borders of the Caribbean Archipelago
  • Chapter 2. Puerto Rico: Border and Bridge to the Continental United States
  • Chapter 3. Dominican Crossings: Displacements across Sea and Land
  • Chapter 4. Cubans at Sea: The Balsero Crisis in Literature and Art
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Marisel C. Moreno is the Rev. John A. O'Brien Associate Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Family Matters: Puerto Rican Women Authors on the Island and the Mainland.


“A first-rate cultural history spanning several decades of intra-Caribbean unauthorized migrants crossing from one insular territory to another to escape natural disaster, dispossession, or animosity at home, Crossing Waters reads Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Cuban literary texts and visual and performing arts to reveal how the region’s artists—whether working in the Caribbean proper or in diasporic locations—have engaged this chapter in the saga of Antilleans' needing to leave home.’’

—Silvio Torres-Saillant, Syracuse University, coauthor of The Once and Future Muse: The Poetry and Poetics of Rhina P. Espaillat

“I have been waiting for this book for almost two decades. Moreno's detailed and extraordinary discussion finally links inter-Caribbean experience to questions about immigration, race, Latinidad as a whitening ideology, and ongoing debates and explorations about what counts as "Caribbean literature and art.'" Moreno carefully constructs a decolonial interdisciplinary approach to critical race theory and literary and art criticism to study the changing narratives about cultural production in the Caribbean and its diasporas. This island-based Puerto Rican writer is deeply grateful for her work. Enhorabuena, Marisel. Gracias por este maravilloso trabajo.’’

—Mayra Santos-Febres, author of Boat People