Unspeakable Violence

Unspeakable Violeunspeakblence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries addresses the epistemic and physical violence inflicted on racialized and gendered subjects in the U.S.–Mexico borderlands from the mid-nineteenth century through the early twentieth. Arguing that this violence was fundamental to U.S., Mexican, and Chicano nationalisms, Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández examines the lynching of a Mexican woman in California in 1851, the Camp Grant Indian Massacre of 1871, the racism evident in the work of anthropologist Jovita Gonzalez, and the attempted genocide of the Yaqui Indians in the Arizona–Sonora borderlands between 1876 and 1907. Guidotti-Hernández shows that these events have been told and retold in ways that have produced particular versions of nationhood and effaced other issues. Scrutinizing stories of victimization and resistance, and celebratory narratives of mestizaje and hybridity in Chicana/o, Latina/o and borderlands studies, she contends that by not acknowledging the racialized violence perpetrated by Mexicans, Chicana/os, and indigenous peoples, as well as Anglos, narratives of resistance and mestizaje inadvertently privilege certain brown bodies over others. Unspeakable Violence calls for a new, transnational feminist approach to violence, gender, sexuality, race, and citizenship in the borderlands.

Reviews for Unspeakable Violence 

Unspeakable Violence is an outstanding analysis of violence in the U.S./Mexico borderlands. As a historian, I am most impressed by the care that Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández takes to ground her analysis in solid historical research. What I find so refreshing is her willingness to put forth courageous new arguments about what has been little discussed in Chicano/Latino studies or ethnic studies more broadly. Rather than taking the standard approach of only analyzing violence when Latinos are the victims, Guidotti-Hernández reveals borderlands violence in all of its complexity. This is exceptional scholarship”– George J. Sanchez, author of Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles

“In this exquisite book, Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández examines little-known but critically important episodes of violence in U.S./Mexican borderlands history. Providing a necessary, long-overdue corrective to Chicana/o and borderlands studies, she suggests that in recounting these events as instances of victimization or acts of resistance, Chicana/o feminist and nationalist scholars create tidy narratives for consolidating Chicana/o nationalist identity. In doing so, they disregard Mexican-American complicity in the very acts of violence they describe.”– Maria Josefina Saldaña Portillo, author of The Revolutionary Imagination in the Americas and the Age of Development

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