November Spotlight: Institute Fellow Alex E. Chávez
In this issue of New Horizons we turn the spotlight on Institute Visiting Fellow Alex E. Chávez. Chávez earned his PhD in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010 with a concentration in folklore and public culture and holds doctoral portfolios in both Mexican American studies and cultural studies. His current research project is a multi-site ethnographic case study conducted in Mexico and the United States over the course of seven years and funded by both the National Science Foundation and Ford Foundation. He explains:
"I interrogate the vexed relationship between Mexican migration to the US and the re-imagining of community across borders through a focus on oral poetry and the practice of huapango arribeño folk music. I detail how huapango arribeño's poetic narratives key in on the subjectivities of undocumented immigrants and in fact disrupt the discursive and militarized constructions of the US-Mexico border that reproduce strategies of containment and deportability designed to disenfranchise and exclude them. The culturally mediated lexicon of nation and citizenship, I argue, is embedded in a web of public discourse, poetic narrative, media, and performance where unauthorized migrants expressively confront the moral economy of a nation-state that accepts them as expendable laborers, but not as citizens with equal human and civil rights."
His research interests explore more broadly what he terms the "transborder imaginary," the prism through which the social life of Latino music-practice, language-use, and performance are envisioned. He focuses on Mexican/Latino folklore and music-cultures, public and popular culture of Greater Mexico, the anthropology of US-Mexico migration, and Borderlands theories of postcoloniality and critical theory.