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Lecture Series: Border Temporalities. Doing Literature in a World of Walls | Cristina Rivera Garza: Autobiography of Cotton: The Making of the US-Mexico Border in the Early Twentieth Century

Oct 26, 2023 | 06:00 PM

Organised by Susanne Klengel, project Border Temporalities and/in Literature, Research Area 1: "Competing Communities" in cooperation with the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. This event is part of the lecture series "Border Temporalities: Doing Literature in a World of Walls".

Speaker: Cristina Rivera Garza (Houston/DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program)

In Autobiography of Cotton, the migrant experience of Rivera Garza's paternal grandparents as they engaged with a cotton social and agricultural experiment led by engineer Eduardo Chávez on the Mexican side of the Rio Bravo during the early 1930s will be explored. Post-revolutionary state efforts to expand forms of monoculture through agrarian reform and recently build water infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border will be traced, especially in the Texas-Tamaulipas borderlands. The cotton experiment was as successful as it was short-lived. Formerly landless peasants became ejidatarios (small private property owners), but monocrop agriculture soon affected the land, generating cycles of economic precarity and ecological devastation. It is not a mere coincidence that half a century later, this territory would become a battleground of the misnamed War on Drugs.

Cristina Rivera Garza is M.D. Anderson Distinguished Professor and director of the Ph.D. program in Creative Writing in Spanish at the University of Houston. She received the MacArthur Award in 2020; since 2022 she is a María Zambrano Fellow at the University of Barcelona, and since 2023 a Member of Mexico's Colegio Nacional. She is the award-winning author of six novels, three collections of short stories, five collections of poetry and three non-fiction books. Originally in Spanish, her works have been translated into multiple languages. Autobiography of Cotton, published in 2020, gives a new and extraordinary significance to the territory of Mexico's northern border. Her most recent book is the critically acclaimed Liliane's Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice (2023). Currently, Cristina Rivera Garza is Artist-In-Residence at DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) in Berlin.

Time & Location

Oct 26, 2023 | 06:00 PM

ZI Lateinamerika-Institut
Lecture Room 201 (2nd floor)
Rüdesheimer Str. 54-56
14197 Berlin

Further Information

For questions please contact: Susanne Klengel, klengel@zedat.fu-berlin.de or Marcela Osses, marcela.osses@fu-berlin.de.