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Studies of the US-Mexico border and the borderlands have formed a large part of the literature that has emerged as a consequence of the Chicano movement of the 1960s. Early Chicano political activists claimed the term Aztlán to identify the land that belonged to their ancestors, the land that now forms the Southwest of the United States. Aztlán continued to be an important symbol for Chicano identity, and the literary representations of landscape spirituality hold important links to political studies of the area this area that once was part of Mexico. In the bildungsroman novel Bless Me, Ultima (1972), by Rudolfo Anaya, the development of the main character, Antonio, also holds parallels with the plains of New Mexico and builds a large part of the novel's political message.

The critic John Chávez affirms that Anaya "depicts New Mexico in a microcosm as lost through the loss of private lands" (45). The style in which Anaya writes and establishes Antonio’s identity thus affirms the importance of Aztlán to Chicano history and culture. This presentation will unveil the cultural complexities of Mexican-American immigration and environmental issues in the Southwest in conjunction with Antonio’s complex identity construction. By studying Antonio’s deep spiritual connection to the land of the Southwest through the lens of ecocriticism, the epistemological concept of a border is problematized, as the Chicano culture exists across both sides and independently thereof.

Key words- US-Mexico border, Chicano literature, Aztlan, New Mexico plains, Chicanx identity


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Subject
    • Modern & Classical Languages

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
  • Event date
    • 26 March 2021

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Joshua Martin