Manzanas, Ana & Jesús Benito, Cities, Borders and Spaces in Intercultural American
Literature and Film,
New York: Routledge, 2011 (ISBN-13: 9780415887212. ISBN:
0415887216; 164 pages).

This book examines the spatial morphologies represented in a wide range of contemporary
ethnic American literary and cinematic works. Drawing from Henri Lefebvre’s theorization
of space as a living organism, Edward Soja’s writings on the postmetropolis, Marc Augé’s
notion of the non-place, Manuel Castells’ space of flows, and Michel de Certeau’s theories of
walking as a practice, the volume extends previous theorizations by examining how spatial
uses, appropriations, strictures, ruptures, and reconfigurations function in literary texts and
films that represent inhabitants of racial-ethnic borderlands and migrational U.S. cities. The
authors argue for the necessity of an alternative poetics of place that makes room for those
who move beyond the spaces of traditional visibility—displaced and homeless people,
undocumented workers, hybrid and/or marginalized populations rendered invisible by the
cultural elite, yet often disciplined by agents of surveillance. Building upon Doreen Massey’s
conceptualization of liminal space as a sphere in which narratives intersect, clash, or
cooperate, this study recasts spatial paradigms to insert an array of emergent geographies of
invisibility that the volume traverses via the analysis of works by Chuck Palahniuk, Helena
Viramontes, Karen Tei Yamashita, Gloria Anzaldúa, Alejandro Morales, and Li-Young Lee,
among others, and films such as Thomas McCarthy’s The Visitor, Steven Spielberg’s The
Terminal, and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s Babel.


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