Assemblages of Land Loss and Immigration

Assemblages of Land Loss and Immigration

Assemblages of Land Loss and Immigration in Film and Literature about the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

David E. Toohey

Abstract

Recently many scholars portray identity politics and environmentalism as incompatible, or analyze the two in ways that marginalize immigrants. Assuming that immigrants should have a right to land and a protected environment as well, this article explores how creative media can interact with political theory to explore land, ecology and identity. Literature and film that are relevant to a concept of land and immigration that promotes ecologically sustainable and anti-racist visions are analyzed here to create an assemblage, based on Deleuze and Guattari’s theories. This is done to accomplish three tasks. The first is to disrupt misconceptions of a dichotomy between ecological activism and immigrant rights activism. The second task is to address the connections between ecologies and immigration and diaspora communities while taking into account issues of control over land that have often been important to people who immigrate from Central America and Mexico to the United States. As a third task, the idea of assemblage is modified to integrate Marx’s theory of primitive accumulation and Laclau and Mouffe’s idea of discourses of positive and negative activation in discourse to explore Deleuze and Guattari’s theory through a more specific application to situations of political economy that have been so intertwined with immigration, land, and ecology in Central America, Mexico, and the U.S. Southwest. Accordingly, the aim is to illuminate ecological points of view that are from immigrant and diaspora communities, rather than hostile to or imposed upon them.

Keywords: Ecology, immigration, land, U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

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