Language, food and identity in the borderlands of El Paso
Keywords:US-Mexico border, ideology, resistance, foodways, critical discourse analysis
The border is a contested space. It is a site where physical and discursive violence act to enforce hegemonic understandings of nation, citizenship and belonging. However, the spaces at the border also create sites where resistance to border discourses is possible. Using interviews conducted by the El Paso Food Voices project in 2018 and 2019, I examine the construction of identity through foodways in the US border town of El Paso, Texas. I view these interviews, called “food stories,” as entextualizations of the semiotic food system. Through critical discourse analysis of these food stories, I identify discourse strategies that construct identity in opposition to border discourses. In the borderlands, people have multiplex identities. Through foodways, residents of El Paso construct identities that do not conform to the dichotomizing and hierarchizing discourses of the border and create counter discourses that build possibility outside of border discourses.
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