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Fatherhood in the Borderlands

Fatherhood in the Borderlands
A Daughter's Slow Approach

A contemplative exploration of cultural representations of Mexican American fathers in contemporary media.

Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

December 2022
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368 pages | 6 x 9 | 19 b&w photos |

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.

  • 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
  • Conclusion: Fathers and Futurity
  • Parting Shot
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Works Cited and Consulted
  • Index


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.