Surviving and Thriving in the Borderlands: An Autoethnography


This autoethnography recounts the process of developing my own agency out of a borderland lifeworld formed in multiple geographic sites. I use self-reflection and research to make explicit a functional inbetween space where I belong. Through Gloria Anzaldúa's work, literature from border and cultural studies, identity formation and my own qualitative research, I analyze the complexities of this space. The narratives presented illustrate a spectrum of belonging and of alienation, unpredictable and frequent mobility, and unrecognized loss. I crossed the border from the U.S. to Mexico daily to attend first grade. I learned differing cultural rules and developed tolerance for ambiguity. In Mexico City at nine, I fluctuated between being Mexican and an expat. At thirteen, nearly a Mexican teen, I moved to the U.S. After two years, I added a rural, Midwestern, US identity before returning to my birthplace in urban California. As an adult, reflexive action resulted in a sudden awareness of an encompassing image: an internal convivial borderland ambiance around and between my distinct cultural identities. This holistic redefinition gave open access to my border person identity and mindset. It made available rich and ample resources for bridging political, social, organizational and individual boundaries in all aspects of my life. My story and its analysis offer an alternative to categorical identity norms with a single belonging place. Sharing these possibilities contributes to understanding the knowledge base, abilities and skills available to border people and those with multipart cultural identities whose numbers are increasing in a globalized world.

Author Information
Kathleen Fairbanks Rubin, Independent Researcher, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2014
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Rubin K. (2014) Surviving and Thriving in the Borderlands: An Autoethnography ISSN: 2187-4751 – The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2014 – Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon