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Velvet Barrios pp 199-213 | Cite as

Rights of Passage

From Cultural Schizophrenia to Border Consciousness in Cheech Marín’s Born in East L.A.
  • Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Part of the New Directions in Latino American Cultures book series (NDLAC)

Abstract

Identity crisis: existential cliché, ethnic ritual, generic “American” malaise? As Cheech Marin shows in his 1987 Universal Studios film, Born in East L.A., for the native sons and daughters of what used to be the Mexican north, identity crisis is no joke, and yet, appropriating the device of mistaken identity, Marin humorizes this painful, inevitable, and fundamental process of Chicana/o subjectivity. The overriding identity question for us is not just “who am I?” but “what am I?” Given the relational and oppositional nature of Chicano/a citizenship in an Anglo-dominated country, “what am I?” is further complicated by the mirror image projected from without: “what do they think/say I am?” This essay explores the territory between the outsider and insider perceptions of Chicano/a identity, ritually enacted by Cheech Marin’s character in the film as a series of physical, psychological, and symbolic border crossings.

Keywords

American Citizen Identity Crisis Border Patrol Mistaken Identity Racist Ideology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Alicia Gaspar de Alba 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alicia Gaspar de Alba

There are no affiliations available

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