Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Film Studies

First Advisor

Nam Lee

Second Advisor

Erica Aguero

Third Advisor

Ruben Espinoza


When discussing ChicanX/a/o cinema, as situated in the United States, its relationship to “American” cinema is one of decoloniality that interrogates the contradictions of a diverse yet homogenous national identity. The formation of cultural identity in conjunction with national identity is inherently contradictory when nationalism requires allegiance that negates differences among communities. ChicanX/a/o identity is one of hybridization that rejects a fixed category of meaning in favor of a liminal landscape of potentiality— a psychic Borderland of identity. Contemporary ChicanX/a voices in Real Women Have Curves (Patricia Cardoso, 2002) and Mosquita y Mari (Aurora Guerrero, 2012) use feminist and feminine modes of storytelling to emphasize the multiplicity of ChicanX/a experiences within Los Angeles. This oppositional voice and assertion of agency is possible with the foundation laid by the first iterations of mainstream Chicano cinema, particularly Stand and Deliver (Ramón Menéndez, 1988). Although this first wave was focused on masculine figures that uphold patriarchal models of power, the dialogue that emerges when the past is carried into the present and beyond establishes a layer of intertextual context that enriches a bi-cultural identity. In this hyphenation of identity, the polysemy of voices coincides to fuse contradictions— not in the way that “American” identity seeks to ignore difference within diverse groups but to emphasize the liminal status of a psychic Borderland that maintains the fluidity of identity as an evolving entity. This thesis is focused on the contradictions present within ChicanX/a/o cinema as an undefined canon and its deeply “American” roots in the U.S. The three cinematic texts deconstruct the hegemonic structures of accepted meaning and how they reinterpret an oppositional reading of dominant culture while speaking from a position as Other to (re)claim centrality.

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