In an article published by The New York Times on November 22, 2015, Hispanic journalist Manny Fernandez brings to the attention of mainstream America one of the starkest realities of the Mexican-American border. According to Fernandez, based on data provided by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C., there are about 130,000 undocumented immigrants living in just two of the four counties that the Rio Grande Valley comprises in the state of Texas, a territory that represents a true “no man´s land,” a space in which many lives are spent in perpetual entrapment, a twilight zone caught between two borders: the official that separates the United States and Mexico, and the unofficial but equally effective that separates from the interior of the US a stretch of land of a width that varies between 25 and 100 miles, from the banks of the Río Grande to the checkpoints that the Border Patrol operates in southern Texas. As Fernandez states: “Those stuck here have little choice but to stay put. They cannot go north for fear of either being caught while trying to cross the checkpoints by car or dying in the vast expanses of brush while trying to walk around them. And they will not go south for the same reasons they left Mexico in the first place.” These individuals exist in a limbo, a “jaula de oro” or “golden cage” as some refer to this twilight zone, according to Manny Fernandez, which seems quite symbolic of the thousands, if not millions, of displaced individuals who are forced to occupy the margins, or peripheries, of the Americas and of the world at large.
Marginalia is a Latin term that in its origins referred to the inscriptions that monks and other amanuensis made on the empty space surrounding the body of text inscribed on a parchment. Romance languages are, to a great extent, the product of marginal inscriptions on Latin manuscripts. Thus, the first manifestations of the Spanish language are to be found in the glosses that monks scribbled on the margins of Latin manuscripts to clarify and comment on words whose meaning was already obscure for the medieval reader, and those annotations were made in the new romance language, which was nothing but macaronic Latin. By extension, marginalia refers to those writings that do not belong in the canonical body of works of a culture or civilization, and is close in meaning to apocryphal. Furthermore, it can be understood as referring to the interstices existing between two or more cultures, nations, or religions. In our usage of the term, marginalia refers to those areas of the world that are populated by displaced or uprooted individuals, limbic spaces in which mere survival can be considered an illegal activity.
Due to its geographical location on the banks of the Río Grande/Bravo—being the busiest inland port in the Americas--and its unique history—including being the capital of the short-lived Republic of the Río Grande—Laredo certainly offers an exceptional site for an academic conversation on borders and frontiers. Such is the reason why IASA has chosen to celebrate its first congress in the United States.
As in our previous world congresses, this call for papers does not exclude any topic in our field of inquiry, and all proposals are welcome even if they do not relate directly to the theme of the conference. Hence, possible topics include but are not limited to:
-History and literature of the US-Mexico borderlands
-The Chicano/a experience
-American frontiers, past and present
-Geographical and cultural migrations
-Living and writing on the margins
-Liminal and hybrid identities
-The politics of translation
-Bilingualism and biculturalism
-The languages of the border
-Border crossings and transgressions
-The borders of the border
-The frontier in the US imaginary
-Beyond borders, beyond nationalism
-The borders of the body, the borders of the mind
-Globalization and “borderization”
Papers can be submitted in any of the four official languages of IASA and of the conference: English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: MARCH 1, 2017
Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words and a short bio to the following email address: IASA2017@tamiu.edu
Authors will be notified of their acceptance/rejection by April 1, 2017.