U.S.-Mexican border; autoethnobiographical novel; Canícula; Norma Elia Cantú; Chicana literature
Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, Vol. 2/3 (2015), s. 63-80
Using the U.S.-Mexican border as the place of enunciation, Cantú’s autoethnobiographical novel
insists on the materiality of the border, especially for those living on its southern side, while simultaneously
deconstructing it as artificial – a line splitting families and assigning nationalities on an
arbitrary basis. Being a collage of photographs from the time the writer was growing up in southern
Texas and the cuentos inspired by these visuals, Cantú’s Canícula documents how border crossings
and re-crossings become symptomatic of living in a liminal space and how they destabilize the
concept of nationality as bi-national families must learn to live with ambiguity. On the one hand,
there is the undeniable materiality of the border, with its pain, fear, deportations, and other discriminatory
practices; on the other, there is a growing border community of resistance cultivating the
memory that they are not immigrants, that they lived in Texas before the Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty.
The paper examines the community’s strategies of survival in the contested cultural and social space
and advances the thesis that, giving her community an awareness of its homogeneity and reclaiming
its place within the larger socio-political context, Cantú becomes an agent of empowerment and
change. She helps decolonize knowledge and being.