Friday, May 23, 2008

Role(s) of a/an (Latin@) Editor

Lately I've been thinking about the role of an editor. It's a role I stepped into in the spring of 2000 when the idea for Momotombo Press began to take shape. How does one's role change (or not change) if one is a Latino or Latina editor, or if the journal, review, or book series one is editing is Latino@ specific, or not? Why would anyone want to be an editor, in the first place?

But what really prompted me to post today is something I just discovered---a year late: an editorial statement. It's penned by an editor for a journal I hold in very high regard for the ethos of its mission. I admire the way it articulates its focused area of interest and concern, but which at the same time creates a space for flexibility, exploration, and inquiry.

The statement is by Carmen Seda, who I've had the pleasure of meeting on a number of occasions. It begins:

Lately, we here at BorderSenses have been kicking around the concept of "border.".....

Have a read. Let us know---here or elsewhere---what you make of it.


Ernesto said...

I liked the editorial and can relate to it completely. As a Mexican writer who also writes and publishes in English I can definitely relate to a concept of border that goes beyond the physical or geographical. I was born in Mexico City, and I belong to a generation that grew up with the concept of "descentralización" and who saw the inception of institutional programs as Tierra Adentro (originally created to promote the work of writers outside Mexico City, but now supporting the work of Mexico City writers as well). I also witnessed the rise and popularization of "border literature", especially from Tijuana. But as a writer from "el centro", my identity is no less borderline than the one of those born in the border. The (intellectual, political, personal) empathy that I feel for authors like Heriberto Yepez exemplifies that the center/Northern border divide is sometimes artificial. This does not mean that "the border" as a concrete physical space is not there: it goes beyond the mere metaphor, locus or symbol. I remember the first time I saw The Wall from Tijuana: it's an uncanny sensation I have not managed to forget.

Having (only) a Mexican passport, everytime I travel I realize that the border is brought everywhere. It's not left "at home". I have my US visa stamped on a passport I no longer use, so I have to take it with me along the new one. Five years ago, flying from London to Mexico, I left the passport with the visa at home (in my mind, I was only flying to Mexico, but I forgot I was flying via Chicago). Because the airport regulations were more lax then, I was allowed to travel but I got my passport and my baggage stamped with TWV (travel without visa), my passport was put in a sealed clear plastic bag (as if it were forensic evidence) and I was carried by a police officer. In Chicago I was not allowed to go anywhere and was kept in a room with other "indocumentados". (all Hispanic, of the group I was the only one who spoke English). It's no exaggeration to say that we were treated like criminals in the process of deportation.

I traveled to New York from London last year and at JFK I was stopped for no reason before picking up my baggage. I was taken to an incommunicated room and I was not allowed to ask any questions or go anywhere while I watched how they joked about my passport and examined it as if it were from another planet. There was disbelief in their faces when I showed the letter from the American university that had given me a travel grant to attend a conference. When they finally let me go, I heard an officer say to me in Spanish: "Hasta pronto, hermano".

I hope not, I thought.

The border travels with you, indeed.

Francisco Aragón said...

Thanks for sharing this.

Ernesto said...

Thank you for your hospitality!