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New Concepts in the Border Imaginary: Borderscapes, Bordering and Ordering, and Border Narratives Stephen Wolfe, IKL, HSL Faculty Co-coordinator of the Border Aesthetics, Norwegian Research Council, KULVER Grant, 2010-2013 and the Border Culture research group
Introduction to changing concepts of the border: Brief lecture and handout of sources for further study. Discussion of Thomas King’s "Borders" (1991) Notes for discussion of story consider implications of title, "Borders" -- with specific reference to story; perhaps in relation to: • double perspective: two cultures; two languages, and code switching or registers; "She did real good" • mini-narratives / end of story; "It's a legal technicality" • place of ideology; "After a week or so, I got bored" • linguistic determination; "what side do you come from?" • Story follows two story lines, flipping between them: there is a gap which can/and cannot be crossed, a spatial border but that cannot be done/accomplished with a rearrangement of the medial border between the two stories or tellings within the whole text. The border not crossing reshapes and restructures each story while at the same time each question and answer series is essential the same yet different. • story of mother and son trying to cross the border • story of Laetitia and her decision to move to Salt Lake City time/timeless -- the flipping between reflects King's belief that past and present are inseparable; helps us to get to know the characters, although not their inner world -- contrasts modernity of Salt Lake City, Laetitia moving, etc., to preservation of Blackfoot, mother's stories about the stars, the broken down museum -- each time feels like the present, as though we are there in that time (conflict of time vs. timeless)
Story Structure and -- narrator: told from child's viewpoint, shows lack of understanding of events and of the larger picture, hence mildly defamiliarizing; but leaving out the name of this character (the boy narrator) helps to generalize the text, a moment that could happen any day; Newscast demonstrates "realism" for western culture (vs. native culture) -- note influence of media on characters: Laetitia's boyfriend has seen brochures that convince Laetitia of the wonders of Salt Lake City; in presence of media the border guard immediately folds and allows mother and son to cross the border -- characters' back and forth conversations, but often not talking about the same things; son seems uninvolved in mother's battle to be recognized as Blackfoot; this seems to suggest that the son is losing his inheritance? identity-- induces a sense of interweaving of the proudly static (mother) and the proudly dynamic (Laetitia); but questions whether progress is an illusion “We did not want to look like Americans” ironic statements about race, ethnic identity and perspective. --"I'd be proud of being a Blackfoot if I were Blackfoot .. . But you have to be American or Canadian" -- the story’s oral qualities make it a tale, out of native tradition; story can be told in one sitting; but also has a real historical context Other items needing careful attention: the “in between space” or the borderscape: most of the story happens away from the border, between the borders of Canada and US, in the “duty free zone”. The performance of the border happens at each border but the action which comments on this action happens between the two border lines or even border zones: in a borderscape. This is a border narrative which details the visual and verbal processes of b/ordering within the borderscape. Border Rhetorical Figures. Waiting at the border, Between the border lines, for example.