Literatures and Cultural Studies Faculty Publications and Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



Federico Ronstadt’s Borderman, a memoir written between 1944 and 1954, recounts the businessman’s immigration to Tucson and his life in the Sonora- Arizona borderlands during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Paradigms of opposition that inform the recovery of early Mexican American memoir and autobiography—centering the life writings of elite, dispossessed Mexican Americans and Hispanic immigrant literature written in Spanish—have discouraged study of Ronstadt’s English-language, seemingly assimilationist memoir. In my critical recovery of Borderman, I argue that it should be read as part of the legacy of oppositional literature written by people of Mexican descent in the United States. I historicize Ronstadt’s writing moment as the decade that culminated in Operation Wetback and introduce images from his archive to support a critical reading of Borderman as oppositional to the anti-Mexican border policies of its era. Building upon Genaro Padilla’s, Tey Diana Rebolledo’s, and Nicolás Kanellos’s discussions of oppositional textual politics, and mobilizing Chicana literary spatial studies, I use the term “cartographic opposition” to evaluate Borderman’s discursive remapping of southern Arizona from associations with the Anglo Southwest to a transfrontera geopolitical and cultural expanse.


© 2018 The Regents of the University of California

Publication Title






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.