New Decade: New World Border

I am about halfway through a collection of writings and performance work by Guillermo Gómez-Peña (had to copy and paste the accent and tilde because my US-Anglophone mother keyboard does not know how to make such accents of speech and mind) and I have to say I am feeling incredibly inspired. The New World Border is a refreshing collection of questions, dislocations, and provocations about our increasingly transnational and multi-defined world.

Home is always somewhere else. Home is both “here” and “there” or somewhere in between. Sometimes its nowhere.

To the nomad within me, I find it comforting and inspiring to start of a new decade exploring the ‘heres,’ ‘theres,’ and nowheres of this wanderlust world. Crossing and between spaces provide opportunities that are rich with oppositionally and complementary charged revelations that enable us to speak and move about globalized, mediaized, and, as Gómez-Peña would say, Balkanized world. Navigating the layers of identities that have become the postmodern-modern experience takes twirling and redesigning our discussions and existences in a way that is consistent with the experiences we have as part of migratory societies. We need to become more versed in the ways of these tricksters and coyotes like Gómez-Peña who can help us to navigate increasingly complex and protean identities. Artists, politicians, writers, activists, and world citizens who turn maps sideways and backways, turning expectations into memories, and pasts into waking dreams.

An ability to understand the hybrid nature of culture develops from an experience of dealing with a dominant culture from the outside. The artist who understands and practices hybridity in this way can be at the same time an insider and an outsider, an expert in border crossings, a temporary member of multiple communities, a citizen of two or more nations. S/he performs multiple communities, a citizen of two or more nations. S/he performs multiple roles in multiple contexts. At times s/he operates as a cross-cultural diplomat, as an intellectual coyote (smuggler of ideas) or a media pirate. At other times, s/he assumes the role of nomadic chronicler, intercultural translator, or political trickster. S/he speaks from more than one perspective, to more than one community, about more than one reality. His/her job is to trespass, bridge, interconnect, reinterpret, remap, and redefine; to find the outer limits of his/her culture and cross them.

In a way, Gómez-Peña is asking us to look at ourselves as characters able of performing outside of the limits we have set for ourselves as part of, what at the everyday level, seems to be rooted and bounded identities. As performers, we can change costumes, masks, and languages, imagining identities and performing them in real time. We are characters within greater social, national, ethnic, sexual, gendered, raced, and generational performances. Embracing the openness and flexibility of this role can provide a way towards confronting boundaries and limitations that demarcate differences, inequalities, and conflicts–perhaps giving us a way to discuss and solve some of our society’s most entrenched social problems. When we are characters we extend beyond our limits; touching possibilities we cannot if we remain bounded to fixed and static categories that resist flow and change.

Resolution: find the borders and move between and through them. Always. Keep. Dancing. Read this book. Now.


~ by Em on January 6, 2010.

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