Undisciplining Testimonio: Border-Crossing Pedagogies in Territory and Text

  • Magalí Rabasa Lewis & Clark College
Keywords testimonio, immigration, Mexico, United States, cultural studies, solidarity
Keywords testimonio, immigration, Mexico, United States, cultural studies, solidarity


This article examines the uses of testimonio to represent experiences of crossing the US-Mexico border in the twenty-first century. I explore how new approaches to the use of both print and digital media suggest a reimagining of the potential of testimonio, through which many of the conventions of the genre have been disrupted, nearly fifty years after its codification by the Casa de las Américas annual award. In particular, I argue that conventional dynamics of solidarity connecting traditional intellectuals and readers in the North to their subaltern interlocutors have been replaced by practices of lateral solidarity. I explore how testimonios about border-crossing deploy experimental pedagogies that have the effect of undisciplining the genre of testimonio. I develop my arguments through a review of various collections of border-crossing testimonios, before turning my attention to an in-depth analysis of the content, form, and process of a book published in Oaxaca in 2010, Sentada frente a la muerte en el silencio del desierto, by Alma Murrieta. In doing so, I propose that the experiences of border-crossing in the twenty-first century demand new approaches to writing, reading, and listening, that destabilize epistemological and geopolitical boundaries of knowledge production.

Author Biography

Magalí Rabasa, Lewis & Clark College

Magalí Rabasa is an assistant professor of Hispanic Studies in the Department of World Languages & Literatures at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, USA. She received her PhD in Cultural Studies with an emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research from the University of California, Davis in 2014. Her research explores alternative media networks and autonomous politics in the Americas, with a focus on Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and the United States. She has published articles and commentary in the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Anthropology Today, Tabula Rasa, La Jornada, Rebelión, and Herramienta. She is a contributor to Modern Mexican Culture (University of Arizona Press, 2017) and the Routledge History of Latin American Culture (Routledge, 2018). Her first book, The Book in Movement: Autonomous Politics and the Lettered City Underground, was published in 2019 by the University of Pittsburgh Press, and is forthcoming in Spanish with Tinta Limón/Tren en Movimiento Ediciones (Argentina).

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