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Autobiography of Cotton: Migration, Family, and the Making of a U.S.-Mexico Border

Wednesday December 14, 2022, at 18:00
Room 24.112 (First Floor). Mercè Rodoreda 24 building

Cristina Rivera Garza (University of Houston / Universitat de Barcelona)

To look into personal origins is to open the door to many questions of silence and unthinkable answers that sometimes end up being a mishap of memory. In The Autobiography of Cotton, Cristina Rivera Garza follows, with curiosity and amazement, the steps of those men and women who dwell in her family’s past, laborers, peasants who worked the land that now makes up the border between Tamaulipas and Texas, a region that achieved economic, social, and cultural prosperity thanks to the cultivation of cotton. Thus, this novel is, in addition to being intimate, a reunion with the land. Or, a disunion, due to the migration, deportation, expulsion, and repatriation of those cotton workers, who after the system failed, left their area unoccupied, before a symbol of progress, today taken over by the so-called war on drugs.

Cristina Rivera Garza is the award-winning author of six novels, three collections of short stories, five collections of poetry and three non-fiction books. Originally written in Spanish, these works have been translated into multiple languages, including English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Korean. The recipient of the Roger Caillois Award for Latin American Literature (Paris, 2013); as well as the Anna Seghers (Berlin, 2005), she is the only author who has won the International Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize twice, in 2001 for her novel Nadie me verá llorar (translated into English by Andrew Hurley as No One Will See Me Cry) and again in 2009 for her novel La muerte me da. She has translated, from English into Spanish, Notes on Conceptualisms by Vanessa Place and Robet Fitterman; and, from Spanish into English, "Nine Mexican Poets edited by Cristina Rivera Garza," in New American Writing 31. She was the Breeden Eminent Scholar at Auburn University in Fall 2015 and a fellow at the UCSD Center for Humanities 2015-2016. She received a Senate Grant from UCSD and the prestigious three-year Sistema Nacional de Creadores grant from Mexico. Cristina Rivera Garza is currently María Zambrano visiting professor at the Universitat de Barcelona.