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Cultures of migration: Race, space, and the politics of alliance in U.S. latina/o print and visual culture, 1910-1939


“Cultures of Migration: Race, Space, and the Politics of Alliance in U.S. Latina/o Print and Visual Culture, 1917-1939” assembles and reads a new archive of urban Latina/o literature —poetry, fiction and creative narratives by New York-based writers such as Jesus Colón, Frank Martínez, and Onofre S. Belloso and writers in San Francisco such as Julio Arce, Isabel Pinzón Castillo, and Ella Ruth Rostau—to demonstrate that intraethnic and interethnic struggles for racial, gender, and economic justice have structured urban Latina/o cultural formations since the 1900s. Placing the works I recover in conversation with early Hollywood film and modernist and realist narratives about transnational migration by John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, and Langston Hughes, I argue that early twentieth-century Latina/o writers reformulated melodrama and romance genre conventions to radically re-imagine forms of affiliation and collaboration among urban Latina/o, African American, and Asian migrants. Early twentieth-century Latina/o print culture, I show, figures affective and non-reproductive bonds as the basis for intraethnic and interethnic alliances for social and political change, displacing heteronormative national and familial tropes of affiliation common to melodrama and romance. “Cultures of Migration” develops a translocal method of reading to recover the ideological and genre innovations of early U.S. Latina/o print culture, from which I argue that early Latina/o fiction portrays intraethnic and interracial political formations that are less historical outcomes than daily acts of affective recalibration, solidarity and collaboration. In tracing Latina/o articulations of affiliation and alliance, this dissertation aims to show how shifting configurations of race, gender, sexuality, ability and class structure historical and, by extension, future struggles to collectively challenge the uneven distribution of power across local U.S. urban landscapes and the Americas more broadly.

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