Spatial and Discursive Violence in the US Southwest

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: Published: April 2021

American Studies, Chicanx and Latinx Studies, Literature and Literary Studies

In Spatial and Discursive Violence in the US Southwest Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita examine literary representations of settler colonial land enclosure and dispossession in the history of New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Sánchez and Pita analyze a range of Chicano/a and Native American novels, films, short stories, and other cultural artifacts from the eighteenth century to the present, showing how Chicano/a works often celebrate an idealized colonial Spanish past as a way to counter stereotypes of Mexican and Indigenous racial and ethnic inferiority. As they demonstrate, these texts often erase the participation of Spanish and Mexican settlers in the dispossession of Indigenous lands. Foregrounding the relationship between literature and settler colonialism, they consider how literary representations of land are manipulated and redefined in ways that point to the changing practices of dispossession. In so doing, Sánchez and Pita prompt critics to reconsider the role of settler colonialism in the deep history of the United States and how spatial and discursive violence are always correlated.


“In Spatial and Discursive Violence in the U.S. Southwest, Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita present a brilliant critical history of the enclosure of land, water, and other resources while making a powerful argument for the significance of literature as a window into everyday contexts of enclosure. Partly focused on what literature makes visible, the authors also illuminate its powers of invisibility and its elision of the historical and material conditions of enclosure. Sánchez and Pita thus make a field-transforming intervention, suggesting Chicanx literature's origins in the repression of Indigenous people's responses to dispossession.” — Curtis Marez, author of University Babylon: Film and Race Politics on Campus

“Ushering in a timely and fully formed paradigm for the study of spatial and discursive violence, Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita teach readers a valuable and sustained lesson in the all important nuances and responsibilities of applied theory. This is the book Chicana/o literary history has been waiting for.” — Angie Chabram, editor of The Chicana/o Cultural Studies Reader


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Rosaura Sánchez is Professor Emeritus of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Telling Identities: The Californio Testimonios.
Beatrice Pita is Retired Lecturer of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. Together they have written Conflicts of Interest: The Letters of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Spatial and Discursive Violence in the US Southwest  1
1. Spatial Violence and Modalities of Colonialism: Enclosure  26
2. Indigenous Spatial Sovereignty and Governmentality: Rights and Wrongs in Oklahoma  43
3. Enclosures in New Mexico: Land of Disenchantment  92
4. Texas Narratives of Dispossession: When the Land Became Real Estate  148
Conclusion. Spatial Moorings and Dislocation  202
Notes  213
Bibliography  241
Index  253
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1173-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1060-9