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Cyber-Aztecs and Cholo-Punks: Guillermo Gmez-Pea's Five-Worlds Theory Author(s): Thomas Foster Reviewed work(s): Source: PMLA, Vol.

117, No. 1, Special Topic: Mobile Citizens, Media States (Jan., 2002), pp. 4367 Published by: Modern Language Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/823248 . Accessed: 23/01/2013 23:45
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7.

Cyber-Aztecsand

Cholo-Punks: Guillermo

G6mez-Pena's Five-Worlds
THOMAS FOSTER

Theory

I mean, to be excludedfrom a national project at a time when all nation states are collapsing is not an extraordinary act of heroism or literaryfiction, ask the Welshor the Irish, man ... [I]t suddenly dawns on me: tourism in a "globalized" world is perhaps an inevitable experience. -Guillermo G6mez-Penia,Dangerous Border Crossers (30, 115) I know,to my cost, [.. .] that there is always a price of incorporationto be paid when the cutting edge of differenceand transgression is blunted into spectacularization. I know that what replaces invisibilityis a kind of carefully regulated, segregatedvisibility.But it does not help simply to name-call it "thesame." -Stuart Hall, "WhatIs This 'Black' in Black PopularCulture?"(470)

THOMAS FOSTER is associate professor

of Englishand director of the Cultural Studies Programat IndianaUniversity. His book "The Souls of Cyber-Folk," fromthe University of Minforthcoming nesota Press, focuses on the role of gender, sexuality, and race in popular narratives of the posthuman.Hiscurrent workfocuses on the transformations of subjectivity promised by postmodern technocultures and on the economic logics that informsuch changes.

N THANKSGIVINGDAY 1994, THOSE IN A POTENTIAL audience of 3.5 million Americanhouseholds who were watching cable television might have been puzzled to observe what their evening news programs. appearedto be a piratesignal interrupting On-screen they saw a high-tech bunker,filled with video and computer equipment being manipulated by technicians in Mexican wrestling masks and other "exotic"paraphernalia. They found themselves being addressedas "post-NaftaAmerica"by an anchormandressed in a costume that combined a nose ring, mirrorshades,metal-studded leather bracelets,and elements derivedfrom Centraland South Americannative cultures, some accessories, such as an elaborate headdress, filtered throughtourist kitsch (fig. 1). This apparitionintroducedhimself as El Naftazteca,a self-styled "cross-cultural salesman,disc jockey apocalipand information tico, bandido," superhighway accompaniedby his assistant,Cyber-Vato,an "EastLos techno-gang member."They claimed to
? 2002 BY THE MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

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FIG. 1
Guillermo as G6mez-Peia ElNaftazteca.

offer viewers "direct access to the labyrinthic mind of a Mexican-and not just any Mexican, but one who talks back,"throughthe "miracleof techno-rascuachismo, a true example of postCNN Chicano Art"(G6mez-Pefia, New World Border 112-13). In actuality,El Naftaztecaand were the Mexican AmericanperforCyber-Vato mance artists Guillermo G6mez-Pefa and Roberto Sifuentes, who had convinced over four hundredcable stations to let them broadcast a simulatedpirateTV intervention(G6mez-Pefia, DangerousBorderCrossers80). Forninetyminutes, viewers were exposed to a rapid-firesynopsis of Gomez-Pefia's performance history, to be at intervalsby what purported interrupted of the world'sfirst"Chicano live demonstrations virtual reality machine," the Technopal 2000 Border 112). (New World wearsa "VR In one such scene, Cyber-Vato over his eyes, an ethnicized version bandanna"

of the head-mounted displayused in virtualreality computer interfaces to break down the gap betweenviewerand screen and to createa sense of immersion in the computer graphic, which the user like an environment. seems to surround is wearinga mechanicalglove, also Cyber-Vato a typical peripheralin a virtualreality system; the dataglove tracksthe hand'smovement,producing an image of the user's handthatcan manipulate elements of the computer graphic. Cyber-Vato'sglove is connected by a rope to a noose aroundhis neck, a reference to lynching through (fig. 2). El Naftaztecatalks Cyber-Vato a series of computer-simulated scenarios in which the user of the system is harassedby the Service and asand Naturalization Immigration considersaultedby the police-to Cyber-Vato's able dismay,despite El Naftazteca'sattemptsto remindhim that "it's only virtualreality"(120). This performance of the relation of Chicanos

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to virtual reality raises a numberof questions. In what way does it make sense to talk about a racialized form of virtualreality? How might G6mez-Pefia's incorporation of computermediatedcommunicationstechnologies into his performances,as themes and as structure,help analysts think through the vexed relation between the new technologies and the politics of racialrepresentation? Five-Worlds Theory: Race and Cyberspace Emphasizing his hybrid history, G6mez-Pefia Border opens his 1996 collection TheNew World himself as a "nomadic Mexican by describing artist/writer in the process of Chicanization, which means I am slowly heading North"(1). A self-described"border G6mez-Peia is inartist," as an creasingly recognized importantvoice in

academicandpublicdebatesaboutglobalization, transnational flows of culturesand persons,and formathe effects of such flows on multicultural tionsin nation-states.' Forinstance,while mostof G6mez-Pefia's written work was published by smallpresses,his mostrecentcollection,Dangerous BorderCrossers,was releasedby Routledge, is forthcoming. andanother fromthatpublisher Less attentionhas been paid to the way The New World Borderinvitesa dialoguebetweenthe of topic globalization and the thematicsof new communicationstechnologies.G6mez-Peia begins TheNew WorldBorderby emphasizing its genericas well as culturalandnationalhybridity, referringto the book as "akind of post-Mexican (ii). The claim is thatthrough literaryhypertext" "disnarrative (i) TheNew World fragmentation" of electronic Borderincorporates characteristics communication into a printtext at the same time thatthe materialexistence of the book in printed

2 FIG.
Roberto Sifuentes as Cyber-Vato, the testing virtual "Chicano machine." reality

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formresiststotal virtualization, just as Jill Kuhnheim has arguedthatG6mez-Pefia's"textualization" of his performances in this book "goes against the ephemeralontology of performance art"(27).2But this descriptionof TheNew World Border also associates such multimedia hybrids with the emergence of postnationalistin this case, post-Mexican-cultural forms. In with fact, this linkingof post- or transnationalism communication frames the computer-mediated concludes with "Endsince it entire collection, of-the-Century TopographyReview,"part of a pastiche of the materialsthat might be included in an introductory textbookon transnationalism, along with a glossary and a set of questions for readers (245). This review defines millennial as the coexistence of five worlds. topography The First, Second, and Third Worlds in G6mez-Pefia's schema correspond to the standard post-1955 Bandung Conference mapping of global social space, the three-worldstheory.3 In the introduction to The New WorldBorder, G6mez-Peiia suggests that the "old colonial hiWorld"is being reerarchyof FirstWorld/Third placed by "the more pertinent notion of the Fourth World,"defined as "a conceptual place where the indigenous inhabitantsof the Americas meet with the deterritorializedpeoples, the immigrants, and the exiles" (7). In a typical move, G6mez-Pefialinks the traditionally placebased cultures of indigenous peoples (the more familiar referent of Fourth World in contemporary political usage) with the "deterritorialized" culturesof migrantpopulations.The basis for this seemingly paradoxicallinkage is a nonof these groups, since in nationalunderstanding native peoples have nation-states modern many been dispossessed of their original land claims and have begun to use FourthWorldto identify themselves with other such populations across national boundaries. In this way, G6mez-Pefa redefinesthe meaningof indigenousso thatboth migrantand native groups can be understoodas ratherthan a material occupying a "conceptual" of conceptual characteristic main and the space,

space is thatit is not definedby clear boundaries between insides and outsides; Gomez-Pefia's FourthWorldoccupies "portionsof all the previous worlds"(245).4 G6mez-Pefia'sFourthWorld,then, embodies a concept of space different from that of the earlierthree-worlds theory,andthis new concept of space links the FourthWorldwith the virtual space of the FifthWorld,where G6mez-Pefialocates "massmedia,the U. S. suburbs,artschools, malls, Disneyland, the White House & La Chingada" (245). G6mez-Pefia's seemingly neutral topography review implicitly critiques the nathetionalistmodel dominantin the three-worlds a particular concept of space ory for naturalizing his FourthandFifthWorlds, as boundedterritory; with their supposedly more conceptual spaces, are not in fact directly opposed to the firstthree, because space is conceptual in all of them. The juxtapositionof two differentconcepts of space underminesand complicates the binaryoppositions structuringthe language used to describe them. Nationalist spaces are Euclidean, characterizedby absoluteboundaries.In this conceptualization,spaceis imaginedto functiononly "asa a co-ordinatesystemof disfield"or a "container, crete and mutually exclusive locations" (Smith and Katz 75). In contrast, the Fourth and Fifth Worlds embody a concept of spatial relations definedin termsof motion,flux, andrelationality, qualities more typically associated in Western philosophical modernitywith temporalexperience.5 The opposition between the bounded spacesof the firstthreeworldsandthe morecomplex spatiality of the fourth and fifth therefore betweenthe Fourthand also causes the boundary FifthWorldsto remainopen. In this way,G6mezPeniaposes the question of the relationbetween the virtual spaces of computer and media networks and the new forms of ethnicity that are emerging from what Arjun Appadurai calls or flows of displaced transnational "ethnoscapes" nationalboundacross workforces peoples and aries (7-8). The mainconcernof TheNew World Borderis to workout the complexities of this re-

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lation between the Fourth and Fifth Worlds, which for G6mez-Pefiaare neitheridentical nor clearlydistinctfromeach other. G6mez-Peiia's refusal to simply separate the FourthWorldas a site of resistancefrom the Fifth World as a site of co-optation, corporate and official or superficialmultransnationalism, ticulturalism makes an importantintervention in the popular and academic discourses on cybercultureand new media technologies, as well as in the discourses on transnationalismwithin which Gomez-Peiia is more often placed. For G6mez-Penia,transnationalcultures are necessarily impure, and that impurityoffers a model for interveningin contemporary rhetoricsabout the implicationsof the Internet.As G6mez-Pefia puts it, his goal is to "'infect,'" "'spanglicize,'" and "'brownify' virtualspace"(DangerousBorder Crossers 259). But to understandthe value virtual space has for Gomez-Pefia as a concept and the value of his work to contemporarydebates about cyberspace,we must trace the route that led him to an engagement with these technologies, despite his initial resistance to them (250).6 My main focus in this essay will be the his work way G6mez-Pefiahas recontextualized in terms of cyberculture as well as Chicano or Latino art and literature.From this perspective, G6mez-Peiia's performances seem to offer a way out of the dilemma facing analysts of race in cyberspace, as defined by the editors of a recent collection on this topic, who describe the dominant technocultural responses to racial questions as caught in a "binary switch": "All too often, when it comes to virtual culture, the subject of race"is either "completely 'off' (i.e., race is an invisible concept because it's simultaandundiscussed),or it's comneously unmarked pletely 'on' (i.e., it's a controversial flashpoint for angry debate and overheatedrhetoric),"and the assumptionbehindthis angryreactionis that issues of race have no relevancein cyberspace.7 In an importantessay entitled "TheVirtual Barrio @ the OtherFrontier" (originally written between 1995 and 1997 andrevisedfor inclusion

in Dangerous Border Crossers), Gomez-Pefia both adoptsand subvertsthe role of intruder, taking on the "unpleasantbut necessary roles of and virweb-backs,cyber-aliens,techno-pirates, tual coyotes"or guides to illegal bordercrossings (258). The project of brownifying the Internet has become explicit ratherlate in G6mez-Pefia's career,as he notes (255), but this impulsecan already be observed in his definition of the Fifth World, specifically in the inclusion of the term "La Chingada"under the heading of the Fifth Worldand the virtualspaces of postmodernmedia simulacraand consumerculture.Tracingthe internallogic thatrequiredG6mez-Pefiato redefine himself andhis workin relationto new technologies shows that a Mexican presence on the Internetis not just an unwelcome intrusion and thatthis turnis not merelytrendy. Gomez-Pefia's phrase "La Chingada"implicitly connects racial categories and performancesto the increasingtechnologicalmediation of contemporary experience in all worlds. In Mexicanculture,"LaChingada" or "theFucked," is an epithetpopularlyassociatedwith the figure of La Malinche, Cortes's captive mistress and translator. Octavo Paz famously interpretedthe link between La Chingadaand La Malinche as a figure for necessarily mixed or illegitimate origins, arguingfor the centralityandpositive value of hybridity or mestizaje in the formation of Mexican nationalidentityafterthe Spanishconquest (79). NormaAlarconnotes thatthe termla chingada is itself a linguistic hybrid, "derived from the Hispanicized Nahuatl verb chingar" (63). In G6mez-Pefia's work,this termrepresents a crossingof racialcategoriesinto the virtual,and his use of the term moves toward Donna Haraway's definition of the cyborg as figuring a "monstrous andillegitimate"unity and as having "nooriginstoryin theWesternsense"(154, 150). The figure of La Malinche is one of the more contestedin Mexican culture,havinggiven rise to the term malinchismo,or treachery.Even in Paz, it is hard for la chingada not to carry connotationsof contempt.In Alarc6n'sreading,

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Paz can only recuperate La Malincheby emphasizing thatshe was rapedand victimized (65), so of La Chingadaas a figthatPaz's interpretation ure for an irreduciblypluralorigin tends to displace the gendered specificity of the term to generalize its relevance.In contrast,Gloria Anzaldua attempts to appropriatethis figure as a model for agency and for attemptsto negotiate between others' culturesand languages(22-23). The result of these critiques is to highlight the mediated and contested natureof La Chingada, which is less a designation than an interested construction.Gomez-Pefiaforegroundsthe mediation of racial and gendered identities by includingLa Chingadain the FifthWorld,a highly chargedand double-edgedassociation.If the inclusion of La Chingadaunderthis rubricof virtual space begins to brownifythe Internet,it also suggests a critique of the media's role in creating and perpetuating stereotypes of Mexicans and women. This reading is reinforced by a bilingual pun on a second, idiomaticmeaningof y la chingada-"and on and on"-which suggests that cliched media representationsof race and gender are so familiar as to go without saying.8 of a term derivedfrom a history This adaptation of sexual andracialviolence to describethe general effects of living in a postmodernmedia environment also risks depoliticizing the term, while preservingits misogynistic connotations, if only as a metaphor for how the media fuck us all. It seems to me that G6mez-Pefiaintends to highlight the dangerof generalizing specific experiences of dislocation and hybridity when he places La Chingadain the Fifth Worldrather than the Fourth, even as that placement also suggests an alternative historical perspective For G6mez-Penia, on postmodernvirtualization. such historical intervention becomes possible only if one takes the risk of virtualization and of reproducing stereotypes,a risk generalization, his performances thatis crucialto understanding of life on the border. One reason for stressing the connections in G6mez-Pefia'swork amongvirtualspace, multi-

culturalrepresentations,and the social and economic changes associated with globalization is to foreground how problematic the concept of the borderhas become for him. While often encouragedby G6mez-Pefia'sself-presentationas a "borderbrujo"articulating the conditions of migration, diaspora,and culturalhybridity that increasingly seem to define postmodernsubjecof the artistas tivity in general,characterizations culture are at best border primarilycelebrating TheNew or only partiallyaccurate.9 anachronistic Borderin fact marksa key momentof selfWorld consciousness abouthow this concept or figure of the borderlends itself to co-optationby transculturesandwhatRogerRouse nationalcorporate multiculturalism calls corporate-liberal ("Thinkthe North before a more than For year ing" 381). Trade AmericanFree Agreement (NAFTA) was passed by the United States Congress, in 1993, debatesaboutthe treatyragedin the popularmedia. Duringthis time, G6mez-Pefiaand Sifuentes the title piece in TheNew World were performing Border. The introductionto the book indicates the crisis the debatesaboutNAFTAprovokedin G6mez-Pefia,whose rhetoricof bordercrossing as a subversive or critical act seemed to have been pulled out from underhis feet. As he points out, the kind of "free trade art" promoted by NAFTA "is tricky. It promotes transcultureand celebratesbordercrossing, but for all the wrong reasons"(11). At the same time, G6mez-Pefiaadvocates creatinga resistant"structure parallelto NAFTA": a "Free Art Agreement" (9).10The trickiness of NAFTA's rhetoric is precisely its structuralparallelism with G6mez-Pefia's, and the lack of a cleardistinctionis dramatized by the similaritybetween"freetradeart"and "freeart." In this sense, NAFTA represented for G6mezPefia both a crisis and a new opportunity,to the andbordercrossingwere extentthattransculture revealedto be basically appropriable, by G6mezPefia and NAFTA-that is, if the passage of NAFTA proved that border crossing could be domesticatedas "conservativediplomacy"(11), it also proved that the idea could be reappropri-

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ated for less conservative purposes. But that reappropriation could only be accomplished throughthe admissionthatthe borderis no one's neitherNAFTA's exclusive propertyor territory, nor G6mez-Pefia's.The performance piece "The New World Border" therefore begins to thematize the difficulty, perhaps impossibility, of clearlydistinguishingbetweenan official or conservativetransculture anda resistantone. A similar self-consciousness about the cooptationor preemptingof the borderas a critical conceptappearsslightlyearlierin G6mez-Pena's work, during his break with the Border Arts Workshop / Taller de Arte Fronterizo (BAW/ TAF) in 1989-90, completed in 1991 with the publicationof his controversialessay "Deathon the Border:A Eulogy to BorderArt."The occasion for this essay was G6mez-Pefia's perception that "in 1989 everyone" in the art world "went border" and jumped on "the Aztec high tech express" (8). G6mez-Peia's colleagues in the BAW/TAF, includingthe founder,David Avalos, andGomez-Pefia's wife, Emily Hicks, justifiably regardedthis kind of language as a repudiation of their collective project and not just of the art institutions that might be attempting to co-opt their key concepts. A numberof critics see this rhetoric as part of G6mez-Pefia's shift away froma site-specificconceptof the UnitedStatesMexico border(Berelowitz)andtowarda "global borderconsciousness,"substitutedfor "anart of place"(Fox 62-63). As Jose David Saldivarputs it, G6mez-Pefiacasts himself no longer "as border brujo or as an Aztec/high-tech theorist"but insteadas a "Warrior for Gringostroika," the title of a performance(andbook collection) in which G6mez-Pefiatied bordercultures worldwide to the breakupof the Soviet Union and the collapse of the three-worlds model (152). Saldivarargues thatthe resultof this shift is to dematerializethe actual geography of border cities like Tijuana (158), cuttingoff the tropeof the borderfrom its lived experience and thereforereproducingthe logic of media spectacle and stereotyping, in a way thathas led some criticsto challengehis au-

thority to speak for the border as a Chilangoa native of Mexico City-rather than a Chicano.1l As G6mez-Pefiasums up this shift,"[F]or me, the borderis no longer located at any fixed geopolitical site. I carrythe borderwith me, and I find new borders wherever I go" (New World Border 5). But if the more site-specific artof the BAW/ TAF could also be co-opted by mainstreammedia, then G6mez-Peiia's generalizationor globalizationof the bordermight be read as strategic in a political ratherthanjust a careeristsense. Is the connectionto place a sufficientform of resistance to media co-optation? Is it possible to resist thatco-optationfrom withinthe virtual space of the postmoder FifthWorld?12The legitimacy of these kinds of questions is made clearer in techsociological work on new communications like that of Manuel Castells. For Casnologies the of virtual flows of information is tells, space today "supersedingthe meaning of the space of places" (349), and "the emergence of the space of flows [. . .] expresses the disarticulation of place-based societies and cultures from the organizations of power and production,"which henceforthfunctionless visibly and less accessibly (349). In Castell's model, to simply reassert the value of the materialis to play into the hands of this disarticulation. The challenge for local communities and resistance movements is to "reconstruct an alternativespace of flows on the basis of the space of places" (352-53), and G6mez-Pefia's performance work can help us imagine what such a reconstruction,what Arif Dirlik calls criticallocalism, would look like. Popular rhetorics about the Internet and about virtualreality pose the same challenge to G6mez-Peiia's work that NAFTA did. The first fictional text in The New World Border is a poem entitled "Freefallingtowarda Borderless Future."For G6mez-Penia,the "borderless future"contains "incrediblemixturesbeyond science fiction,"including not only "cyber-Aztecs" and "cholo-punks,"a hybridization of Chicano and cyberpunk cultures,but also "butohrappers"

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and "Hopi rockers,"new cross-cultural ethnic formationsinformed and generatedby contemporary media, which are thereby racialized in new ways (1).13 However, in the essay "A Borderless World?"Masao Miyoshi points out how the same rhetoriccirculatesin transnational corwhere borderless worlds are ones cultures, porate in which race is irrelevant, not remixed. Lisa for Nakamuraarguesthatrecent advertisements Internetservices similarly "claim a world without boundariesfor us, theirconsumersand target In these kinds audience"("WhereDo You"21).14 of cultural contexts, it becomes increasingly dangerous to write about "jumpingborders at ease / jumping borders with pleasure" (New WorldBorder 3), as G6mez-Pefia does in this poem, since what is desired is an easy model of cultural exchange, which leaves racial stereotypes and inequitable social relations intact at the same time that it facilitates what Nakamura calls "identity tourism"and G6mez-Pefia later refers to as "culturaltransvestism"(Dangerous Border Crossers215). Fromthis perspective,G6mez-Pefia'sdeclarationthat "I make artaboutthe misunderstandings thattakeplace at the borderzone"takeson a new meaning: those misunderstandings are aboutthe statusof the borderzone itself, notjust or visitors,andthe emphasis aboutits inhabitants in partqualifies the "ease" on misunderstanding of crossing borders.Equally imand "pleasure" portantis the statementthat follows, about how G6mez-Pefia carries "the border with me" and finds"newborderswhereverI go" insteadof locating the border"atany fixed geopolitical site" (5). Slavoj Zizek has critiqued popular depictions of cyberspace for imagining it as a site of identityplay, where users can constructand control their own personae and "you can be whatever you want" (487). This common view of cyberspace as a means of externalizing or staging fantasiesis for Zizek informedby a desire to overcome the internal splitting of subjectivity into conscious and unconscious and thereby to gain greater control over self-fashioning (506,

508-09).15 In effect, cyberspace is imagined to turn subjectivity inside out, but this operation only assimilates virtualrole-playing to a model of ego psychology and possessive individualism. For Zizek, the dangerof celebratingvirtualselfis fashioningandfantasiesof cross-identification that such practiceswill ultimatelyinstrumentalize the subject;we can be whoeverwe wantto be only if we understandour selves to be machinic assemblages vulnerable to reconstruction by externalpower as well as by our desires and fantasies. The unconscious structuration of subjeceven when limits this instrumentalization, tivity it proceeds under the rubric of self-fashioning and agency. In contrast, G6mez-Pefia's border subject remains permanently divided, though not along the lines of conscious and unconscious. Gomez-Pefia'smodel of subjectivityretainsthe postmodern depthlessness that Zizek resists; Gomez-Pefia'sbordersubjectis constitutedby a refusal to allow the Mexican presence to be repressed in the political unconscious of North America. At the same time, this subject avoids the trap of conceiving subjectivity as internally homogeneousand thereforeas amenableto control or self-control.The relevanceof Zizek's argument to racial identity in the United States is suggested by HarryetteMullen, who defines the production of a "media cyborg" through the same processes of externalization that cyberspace seems to literalize.For Mullen, the media of blackness extract"the soul of representations black folks [ . .] from the black body," make that soul "comprehensible in its expressiveness,"and renderit consumableor appropriable by white audiences;rap music is the most obvious contemporary example (84, 87). G6mez-Penia's most recent performance pieces revolve around the use of the Internet, especially the World Wide Web, to construct "ethno-cyborgs." This use of the Internet is groundedin but significantly extends his longin standingtechniqueof "reverseanthropology," which G6mez-Pefiaand his collaborators gener-

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ate performancepersonae by stylizing and exaggeratingstereotypes of Mexicans and inserting them "backinto public spaces"(New World Border 84, 96).'6 "TheTemple of Confessions," originally designed in 1994 as a set of "living includedan interactive element:visidioramas," tors' fantasies about Mexicans and immigrants were solicited in face-to-face exchanges and then used to revise the performers' characters and their scripted actions. Soon G6mez-Peia and Sifuentes,with the help of galleriesand museums where they performed, began to set up Websites wherevirtualvisitorswere encouraged to narrate similarfantasies.The relativeanonymthe and ity physical detachment of computermediated communication induced confessions that, as G6mez-Peia puts it, "couldn'tpossibly have been obtainedthroughfield work,directinor even "talkradio"(40).'7This Webterviews," based element was introducedinto a performed work later in 1994, in a piece entitled "The Ethno-cyberpunk TradingPost and Curio Shop on the ElectronicFrontier" (46). Finally,in 1995 G6mez-Penaand Sifuentes presented"El Mexin Mexico City,basedalmostentirely terminator" on the Web confessions received (a selection of these confessions is included in Dangerous Border Crossers and can be contrastedwith the confessions delivered in person in the earlier performance[58-60, 41-43]). Personaegenerated in this mannerinclude a revised version of Sifuentes's "Cyber-Vato"character, who apand G6mezpearedin "TheNew WorldBorder," Pefiaas "El MadMex"(54; figs. 3 and4). The shift in the circumstancesof these confessions, from the physical copresence of the visitors and performersto computer-mediated anonymity,makes it difficultto generalizeabout the demography of those who providedthe fantasies. In his commentarieson this work,G6mezPefiaexploits this ambiguityby usuallyreferring to both types of confessions as examples of "archetypal American fears" (40). He concludes that"TheTempleof Confessions"shouldbe understood as "an exercise in reverse anthropol-

3 ogy" because it "wasmoreaboutAmerica'scul- FIG. turalprojections andits inabilityto deal withcul- Sifuentesin a tural otherness than about the Latino 'other,"' versionof the and he offers a similar analysis of the virtual Cyber-Vato confessionsas expressionsof "America's millen- ethnocyborg Photo: nial fantasies"(40, 50). Discussing "TheTemple persona. Castro. Eugenio of Confessions," G6mez-Pefianotes thatthe performance included examples of internalized stereotypes among Mexicans and Latino audience members (40), but his tendency is to assume thatthe Internetusers were predominantly Anglo, most likely because of the "unexamined ethnocentrism"the artist critiques in his essay on the "virtualbarrio," where he points out how has naturalized online as an "unbeen English
questioned lingua franca" (Dangerous Border

Crossers 255). G6mez-Pefia also suggests that

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FIG. 4 online anonymitymade respondentsmore willas ing to expose their most stereotypicalmodes of G6mez-Pena an ethnocyborg thinking about racial minorities and immigrant in"El populations,modes of thoughtthatmight otherMexterminator." wise have been censored or stigmatized. Given Photo: the selection of Internetconfessions includedin Castro. Eugenio

in Danthe commentaries on these performances gerous Border Crossers and the book Temple of Confessions (Gomez-Pefiaand Sifuentes), it certainlyappearsthatthe overwhelmingmajorwere Anglo, or at least not ity of the respondents Chicanos or Latinos, though it is not clear how focused andhis collaborators muchGomez-Pefia on the more stereotypicalresponses. Similarly, since my access to the responses is mediated through Gomez-Pefia's performances and his commentaries on them, it is not clearto whatextent the online questionnaires tended to elicit stereotyped or hostile answers. Some of the questions were biased for or against Mexicans

and Mexican Americans,such as "Do you think that immigrantsare contributingto America's downfall?"and "Shouldthe US/Mexico border be opened and, if so, why?" Another question describeda groupof raciallystereotypedfigures (a tattooedgang member,a "NativeAmericanin full regalia,"and "a romantic over-sexualized Mexican macho")and promptedrespondentsto describe the "wild fantasies" they would like these figures to "re-enact";the idea of reenactment implied thatthe questionconfinedrespondents to the cliche, the alreadyrepresented,the stereotype(DangerousBorderCrossers58-59). Did no respondents contest the terms of these questions,perhapsfroma moredirectlypolitical or nationalist perspective? Such doubts qualify Gomez-Pefia'sclaims to havingexcavateda new layerin the American psyche through his "Temple of Confessions." The ambiguityis whetherthe confessionsreflect dataaboutan emergentset of valid ethnographic newly technologizedracialfantasies,as G6mezPefa claims in his commentaries on them, or whetherand to what extent they reflectG6mezPefa's thinking about the effects of new technologies on racial representations.Given his critiqueof anthropological knowledge, it is perhaps best to consider the confessions and the personaebasedon themas collaboperformance rations or shared inventions ratherthan a new truthabout America. G6mez-Pefia's project in these performances, after all, is to exploit the nature of a specific set of fan"intercultural" tasies about racial others in a way that clarifies what it means to brownify virtual space (49). relations The point of reversinganthropological of knowerand knownby reinserting stereotypes and racialfantasiesinto public space is to make those fantasies more dialogic. This tactic of reversal is developed more fully in the sciencefictional scenario sketched out in performance in which pieces like "The New WorldBorder," AmerSouth North and G6mez-Pefiaimagines normthat ica dominatedby a new transnational minoritizes monoculturalidentities. This tech-

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nique is appliedto the Internetin FriendlyCannibals, an electronic epistolary fiction with art by Enrique Chayoga. In a story that takes the form of a set of e-mail communicationsfrom a future version of G6mez-Pefia, cyberspace has become "brown& rowdy, punto, and its lingua franca is colloquial Spanglish"(10). At the be"El Mexterminator," ginning of the performance audiences encounter a similar "metafictional premise," in the form of a written or recorded text explaining that the ethnocyborg personae exhibits"derepresent"interactive ethnographic signed to educate supposed future audiences about the historical attitudes of the outmoded nationalera (DangerousBorderCrossers52). G6mez-Pena disclaims authorshipof these new ethnocyborgpersonaewhen he asserts that the confessional results of his "experiment in anti-colonialanthropology" throughthe Internet were "much stranger than anything we could have imagined on our own." Regardless of the extent to which these fantasies mix his audience's fantasiesand his own predispositionsand imagination,G6mez-Pena'sethnocyborgsrepresent a significant advance in thinking about the possibilities for articulatingracial histories and new technologies. Specifically, G6mez-Peiia takes the confessions as evidence of an unexpected displacement of traditional Mexican stereotypes such as the "'sleepy Mexican,'" the "exotic border 'senorita,'" and the "'greaser' bandit."Such figures have been replaced "by a new pantheonof mighty robo-Mexicans"(Dangerous Border Crossers50). What is the significance of such a shift in racial figurations? These technologizedracialfantasiesreflecta challenge to concepts of Americancitizenship and nationality anda strategyto containthatchallenge,both articulated on the level of body imagery.The fantasies thatG6mez-Pefia has elicited andrestaged, of Mexican ethnocyborgs with prosthetic implants and tattooed brown skin, conceptualize immigrant populations and the transnational imbrication of the Mexican and United States economies as having a prosthetic relation to an

imagined social body. On one level, this kind of fantasyappearsto serve as a new meansof exoticizing Mexicans and Mexican Americans and imagining them as a mere supplementto or defromAmericannorms,a readingthatemparture phasizes the difference between the prosthesis and the organic body. But on another level the image of the prosthesis also figures a less easily dismissed process of incorporationwithout assimilation,given thatthe prosthesisis an artificial extension of the body. As Allucquere Rosanne Stone points out, the prosthesisis opposed to the instrumentor tool, which does not change the user (12). An analogyto the instrumental approachto technology is the desire to cast immigrant populations as an exploitable labor force ratherthanas agentsof culturalexchange.Resistanceto such exploitationdisruptsthe primitivizing stereotypes that seem to have disappeared from G6mez-Pefia's confessions. The ethnocyborg, then, representsa restructuringof time and space. Primitivist ideologies may imagine the spatialcoexistence of temporallydistinctand boundedpopulations,a nonsynchrony thatserves as a defense againstpossibilitiesfor culturalmixing necessarilyimpliedby coexistence.Fantasies aboutethnocyborgsregisterthe collapse of such temporaland spatialdistinctions. G6mez-Peiiasuccinctly formulateshis recognition that the ethnocyborgconstitutesboth a and a significantchangein racialrepresentations new stereotype when he describes these fantasies as "projections of people's own psychological and culturalmonsters-an armyof Mexican Frankensteins readyto rebel againsttheirAnglo creators"(Dangerous Border Crossers49). The potentialfor resistanceor rebellion in such constructions of "Mexican-ness" andtheirdifference fromMullen's"mediacyborgs"residein the emphasis G6mez-Penaplaces on the embodiedrepetition or "stylizedanthropomorphization" of his audiences'"ownpost-colonialdemonsandracist hallucinations"(50). The language here echoes the imagery used to describe cyberspace computer networks as a collective or "consensual

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hallucination,"a phrase found in William Gibson's Neuromancer(1984), the novel thatcoined the term cyberspace (5). But G6mez-Pefia departs from the typical cyberpunk tendency to imagine cyberspace as a site of disembodiment when he insists that what his reverse anthropoland that ogy does is "embody[...] information" such an embodiment reinterprets the data he gathersthroughthe Web (113). This element of reinterpretationmakes these performancespotential critical reflections on racism. An extension of this techniqueoccurs when the artistand his collaboratorsencourage viewers to "modify our identities by changing our make-up,hair or to do costumes"andthen to allow the performers the same to audience members, who can thus "fulfill their fantasy of a brand-new'temporary ethnic identity'"as "their'favoriteculturalothers " (55). G6mez-Peiia's performancesaim to literalize computer-mediatedidentity play and invention of personae.The result is not to reject butto raise or resistthose practicesas inauthentic the questionof materialconsequencesthatqualify the ease andpleasureaudiencesmighttake in such bordercrossings. G6mez-Pefiathen connects race and cyberspace by extending to cyberspace the kind of analysis Stuart Hall makes of popular culture and mass media in general.Emphasizingthe imof blacknessin popular purityof representations that Hall culture, "spectacularization" argues has to be understoodin termsof the operationof power throughhegemony-that is, as involving both co-optationand the potentialfor significant change (468).18 G6mez-Pefiarevealssuch a dual process at work in the exteriorization of racial identity and assimilation of race to norms of postmoderndepthlessness analyzed by Mullen and defined by Zizek as a general feature of communication in cyberspace. In this model, the reproductionof power relations depends on negotiation between dominant and subaltern groups,on the ability of subalterngroupsto talk back to power and thereforeto be given opportunities for change and resistance. This model

of resistance is never completely co-opted but also never completely oppositional. In an essay included in the Templeof Confessions collection, Ed Morales defines the central issue of G6mez-Pefia's recent work as the problematic of mutualaccess, the access of "a misinterpreted to the "Americantechnological meta-ethnicity" infrastructure" and of "mainstreamAmerica to the historical and cultural memory of a hybrid Naftaztecasouth-of-the-border being"(136-37). I now turnto an explorationof how G6mezof racial Pefiamoved towarda conceptualization identityas a hybridof informationand bodies as a result of his interest in mapping the shifting The borders betweenthe FourthandFifthWorlds. rest of this essay offers readingsof the origin of these concernsin two performancepieces, "The New WorldBorder," which datesto 1992-94, and PirateCyber-TVfor A.D. 2000,"the "Naftaztec: thatairedin 1994. simulatedpirateTV broadcast This secondworkdirectlythematizesthe relation of Chicanos to immersive virtual reality interfaces and telepresencetechnologies."Naftaztec" or is partlyorganizedas a kind of demonstration test of the Technopal2000, the "Chicanovirtual realitymachine," presentedas makingvisible the mediationof racializedbodies.

"Chicano Cyber-punk Art":G6mez-Pefa's "TheNew World Border" The performance piece entitled"TheNew World Border" imagines a near-future America in which "the sinister cartography of the New World Order" has been replaced by "a great trans- and intercontinentalborderzone, a place the "only true 'othin which no centersremain," ers' are those who resist fusion, mestizaje, and cross-cultural dialogue," and "hybridityis the dominant culture"(New WorldBorder 7). This definitionperhapsemphasizesthe utopianaspect of the New World Border, but G6mez-Pefia's performance also addresses the emergence of as new soculturalhybridityand "borderization" of cial normsand a new regime powerand domi-

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nance-that is, this transformationof America into a borderzone seems progressivein relation to earlier models of national culture and secure national boundariesbut not necessarily in relation to a contemporary world system increasingly dominated by transnationalcorporations and the border-crossingcultures they promote. This ambivalence reflects Gomez-Pefia's increasing awarenessthat "to be excluded from a national project at a time when all nation states act of heroarecollapsingis not an extraordinary Crossers ism" (Dangerous Border 30). By the same token, however, neither is such exclusion merely a "literaryfiction";instead, it marksthe of social space. emergenceof a new topography In the introduction to "TheNew WorldBorder,"written for the version printedin the book of the same title, G6mez-Pefia tells how his thinking about the piece changed over the two years that he presentedit. He describes how reviewers and colleagues insisted on labeling "TheNew WorldBorder""chicanocyber-punk art,"until ultimately he decided "to embrace [that]definition" (21). To the extent that it is derived from how others perceive Gomez-Pefia, "cyber-punk"becomes anotherexample of reverse anthropologyand the self-conscious repetition or "involuntary of imposed performance" identity categories, like Chicano or Mexican. I am particularly interested in the way GomezPefiatries to cross these two sets of identity categories, as he does on the most basic verbal level in the poem introducing The New World Border, "Freefalling toward a Borderless Fuwhen he divides"cyber-punk" into "cyberture," Aztecs" and "cholo-punks"(1). This linguistic maneuvertypographically dramatizesthe acceptance of a technocultural framing of Mexican Americanidentity,which neverthelessinterrupts and divides thatframework from within. In his introductorycomments on the New World Border, Gomez-Pefia goes on to define the project of this performanceas one of "gringostroika" or the projection onto the United States of "the processes of balkanization that

EasternEurope underwentfrom 1989 to 1992" (21). This focus on the decline of the nationstate defines one of the main similarities between the performanceand the representational frameworkof cyberpunkscience fiction, which FredricJamesonfamouslyrefersto as one of the most fully realized contemporary expressions of "transnationalcorporate realities" (38). In fact, Gibson's Neuromancer, the paradigmatic cyberpunk novel, never mentions the United States but refers only to new urbanformations within its former boundaries (the Sprawl, the Boston-AtlantaMetropolitanAxis) and to fragmented subcultures(the Big Scientists, the Panther Moderns).Gibson says in an interviewthat the novel omits national references because he "wantedthe readerto questionthe political existence of the United States"("Eye"26). This challenge to national boundaries is linked to the emergence of cyberspace, defined in Neuromanceras a global "consensualhallucination" or "graphic representation of data abstractedfrom the banksof every computerin the humansystem"(51); this definitionemphasizes the use of cyberspace as a medium for interactions not only with information but also with other computer users, a social space in which national boundaries, and indeed material limitations of any kind, seem irrelevant.But the obsolescence of the nation-state in this type of science fiction is also explained by the dominanceof transnational or zaibatsus, corporations, to use the term most often found in Neuromancer. In another interview, Gibson remarks thatthe absenceof nationalentitiesin his version of cyberpunkreflects his view that "we're moving toward a world where all the consumers undera certainage will probablytend to identify morewith theirconsumerstatusor with the products they consumethanthey would with a sortof antiquatednotion of nationality"(Interview).In other words, cyberpunk fiction represents the dissolution of national borders as liberatory, a movement into the freer spaces of computermediated communication, and as oppressive-

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as reflectinga new set of soor, more accurately, cial and culturalnorms.This ambivalentattitude toward transnationalizationprovides the most substantiveconnection between cyberpunkfiction like Gibson's and G6mez-Pefia's performance art and makes the labeling of "The New World Border"as Chicano cyberpunkart more classification. thanjust a forcedor involuntary "The New WorldBorder"narratesgringostroikaas a science fictionplot, offering a future history in which the countries of the North Americancontinentfollow the Soviet Union into the "geo-political limbo" of "former"nationhood (245). In a reimaginingof NAFTAthatexplores with relish Ross Perot'sworstnightmares, of a Free Raid Agreement" "theimplementation results in the merging of Canada, the United States, and Mexico into the F.U.S.R.,or Federation of United States Republics, governedby "a of MasterChamberof Commerce,a Department Transnational Tourism,and a Media Junta" (27). The result is described by one of the characters as a new "reality"that "looks and feels like a cyber-punk film codirected by Jose Marti and Ted Turner" (29). consists of expositorysecThe performance tions like the one quoted above, narrated by G6mez-Pefiain the characterof El Aztec HighTech and by his collaborator Sifuentes in the characterof Super-Pocho,alternatingwith various set pieces, such as an official news broadcast the inintendedto dramatize andradioprograms, main The stitutionalizationof hybrididentities. featuresof this new historicalrealityincludepassage of a "SpanglishOnly Initiative"thatestabas the official and"Gringonol" lishes "Spanglish" languagesof the FU.S.R. (28); the emergenceof "new hybrid identities" of "mesti-mulatas,"or of at leastfourracial peopleswho are"theproduct Geras such Mexkimos,Chicanadians, mixtures," manchurians, Anglomalans,andAfro-Croatians (33-34); new syncreticreligious figures,such as the Mexicangod of urbanwrath,or Tezcatlipunk, the Funkahuatl, Aztec divinity of funk (41); and the relegationof "artaboutidentity"to "a digni-

fled form of nostalgia"(42-43). This institutionalization of cultural and ethnic hybridity also results in an inversion of contemporarysocial of the territories norms,so that"themonocultural disbandedUnited States [...] have become drastically impoverished,leading to massive migrations of waspbacksto the South"(27). At the same time, the collapse of national calls "therise of andwhatthe narrator boundaries Border the New World globalist rhetoric"also lead to "a resurgence of ultranationalistmovements,"includingthe secession fromthe F.U.S.R. of Quebec,PuertoRico, Aztlan,southcentralLos Angeles, the Yucatan,and all the Indiannations (30). At this point, it becomes clear thatthe New WorldBorder is what the performancecalls an transculture.19 or dominant "official" postnational as social norm The emergenceof transculturation progressiveonly in relationto appearsinherently As one of the characters norms. older national puts it, in this new borderizedculture"thecrossing from the Third to the First World" is no longer an act of time travel,a passage from "the past to the future,"and so primitivistideologies andarereplacedby new problems(41). disappear The negative consequences of this official transcultureas a new regime of power are dramatized by the F.U.S.R.'s "campaign of the amigoizationof the North,betterknown as OperationJalapefioFever,"in which "multicultural consumer training" promotes "sexy and inoffensive Latino products"such as taco capsules and inflatableFrida Kahlo dolls (37). The main features of the official transcultureare the coimplication of globalism and localism and the articulation of postnational power through the paradoxicallysimultaneousimperativesto participate in the globalizing processes of cultural homogenization(bordercrossing) and the localizing processes of culturaldifferentiation(border fortification),which seem to be two sides of the same transnationalcoin. In this way, "The New World Border"dramatizes not a celebration of border crossing but instead what David Harvey calls the "central paradox" of post-

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Fordist global economies-"the less important the spatial barriers"between nations become, "thegreaterthe sensitivity of capitalto the variations of place within space, and the greaterthe incentive for places to be differentiatedin ways attractiveto capital" (295-96). The emergence of transnationaleconomies, with their normative disregard for national borders as spatial barriers, is paralleled by an equally powerful and only seemingly contradictoryimperativeto heighten and market one's local color, in sexy but inoffensive ways. The performanceends with a list of sectarian movements or "mafias,"including Straight White Guys Are Alright,WhiteWomenExperts of Otherness, Thin and Gorgeous Artists of Color,Born Again Latinos,andthe Real African Nation (who supposedly claim that "the entire African continent sold out" and is "no longer African enough" [45-46]). During the reciting of this list, audiencemembersare encouragedto raise theirhands to identify themselves with the appropriate category,andG6mez-Pefiadescribes how before the performance he and Sifuentes often seated audience members, "segregating" them "accordingto racial and/orlinguistic criteria"(an act of segregationreinforcedformally,at least for "monocultural" audience members,by the multilingualnatureof the performance [22]). These forms of identity politics are presented as one possible mode of resistanceto the official transculture and its market-driven multiculturalism.At the same time, such movements are ruthlessly and indiscriminately mocked, in ways that seem designed to offend and alienate every possible audience member.Why do this? In the transnational order of the New World Border, these identity-based movements resist only one of the dual imperatives of official transnationalism-the imperativeto global homogenization-but by doing so they participate in the imperativeto differentiatelocally in ways attractiveto capital. For G6mez-Peiia, identity politics plays into the hands of the transnational corporations' new strategies for producing and

managing social differences, to the extent that such a politics defines new niche markets and demographiccategories for capitalism,like lesbian chic or alternativemusic. While this aspect of G6mez-Pefia's transnational or borderized culture involves political or social movements, the artist also identifies a problem inherent in computer-mediated communication. Manuel Castells argues that the functional distinction between the space of flows and the space of places in contemporarysociety encourages the tribalizationand fragmentationof social space, among other effects: "faced with the variable geometry of the space of flows, grassrootsmobilizationstend to be defensive, protective,territorially bounded, or so culturally specific that their codes of self-recognizing identity become non-communicable."The result is a fragmentation "intotribes"and a tendency toward"a fundamentalist affirmation of [...] identity"(350).20 In contrastto these partialand thereforerecuperable modes of sectarian resistance, "The New World Border" opposes a resistant mode of transnationalization.A section called "The Barrios of Resistance"imagines every block as having "a secret community center" that functions as a "contemporaryversion [. . .] of the old kilombos" (38); the "glossary of borderismos" in the back of the book defines kilombos as "independent micro-republics created by runaway slaves," like the maroon communities that were often sites of alliance between indigenous peoples and fugitive slaves, most notably in Florida. These are Fourth World sites, as G6mez-Pefiawould define thatworld. The practices of resistance in these barrios include self-published"laser-xeroxmagazines," home videos on police brutality," "experimental and "pirateradiointerventions" (38). In contrast to the sectarianmovementsas G6mez-Pefiapresents them, the barriosof resistancedefinethemselves as locally situated,one for each city block, and as capableof transcending the local through the expropriation of globalizing media technologies-publishing, video, and radio. These

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community centers resist the official culture's imperativesto localize and globalize by restaging bothprocessesin a morecriticalmodality.As Arif Dirlik puts it, in an essay attemptingto distinguish a "critical localism" from modes of local differentiation that are only attractive to capital, "local resistance" must also be "translocal,"to successfully resist transnational corporations that domesticate themselves "in various localities without forgetting [their] global aims and organization" (Dirlik41, 34). Fromthis perthe sectarianmovements succeed only spective, in becominglocal, withoutredefininglocal identities as simultaneously translocal. G6mez-Pefia's resistant transculture attempts to turn the instruments of the official transculture,its localizing and its globalizing mechanisms,againstthatdominantculture.Unlike the more nationalist or sectarian identitybased movements, such a strategyof resistance risks becoming what it resists, since these barrios, as their name suggests, work within and, they hope, against the same official logic of transculturationthat reduces Latino culture to sexy and inoffensive productson the world market and also generates ghettoized neonationalisms. In Dirlik's terms, under the conditions of transnationalism, the local "becomes the site [...] where critiqueturnsinto ideology and ideology into critique,dependingupon its location at any fleeting moment"(35). In this sense, it is necessaryto returnto Gomez-Pefia'srepresentation of the sectarianmafias and ask whetherthe seemingly savage mockery of those movements is not in fact undermined in the same way thatresistanttransculture always threatensto blur into its media image. In this reading, G6mez-Pefia does not simply reject the sectarian mafias or identity-based movements, as it is often sugcommentson Gomezgested he does (Kuhnheim Pefia's sexism, for instance [27]). Gomez-Peiia has acknowledged his willingness to move between a strategic essentialism and a strategic antiessentialism, dependingon audience;he suggests that Mexican audiences often need to be

confrontedwith the position of Chicano nationalism, while Anglo audiences need to be confronted with "a pan-Latino or pan-subaltern space" (Dangerous Border Crossers 177). This kind of shift informsGomez-Pefia's commentary on his work and on transnationalism in general. In an interview in Dangerous Border Crossers, Gomez-Pefiadrawson "TheNew WorldBorder" to try to distinguish between the official multiculturalism of NAFTAandthe emergencein that officialtransculture of an"anti-NAFTA transborder zone."Laterin the same interview,however, G6mez-Pefia admits how difficult it is to maintain that distinction, commenting that "border culturehas been fully commodified" andhence it is necessary"torepositionthe border" again and la chingada(205, 218). again-y While attempts to recuperate a critical localism like Dirlik's, or G6mez-Pefia's, for that matter,are clearly indispensable,they often neglect the unsettling effects of what Mitsuhiro Yoshimotocalls "virtualization" or the progressive "dissociation of space from place," which finds its logical extreme in representations of cyberspace (115). The dissociation of space from place means the dissociation of the local from location.While this abstractionof the idea of the local from bounded material spaces can obviously facilitate the transformationof local sites into easily manipulableand commodifiable images or simulacra, it also permits local sites to function translocally. This is the lesson and the challenge that the Fifth World poses to the Fourth in G6mez-Pefia's work. This challenge undermines the separation between the translocal barrios of resistance and the aggressively bounded in-groups represented by the sectarian mafias. The modes of guerrillamedia practiced in the barrios of resistance share the ephemerality and nonrepeatableuniqueness or site specificityoften associatedwith avant-garde art,qualitiesthatmany claim place performance that art outside or at least in conflict with the commodity system; as Peggy Phelan puts it, this type of performancewants to be "represen-

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tation without reproduction"(27). But Kuhnheim points out how the publicationof a printed version of the performanceundercutsthis claim to specificity (27). At the same time, I would add that the turn to a printed text resists complete virtualization,as does the sectarianismof the mafias. This self-consciousness about the packagof ing his performance work, as analogous to the commodificationof borderculture,is intensified in Gomez-Pefia'snext performancepiece, "Naftaztec,"which simulates the kind of pirate media imagined to originatefrom the barriosof resistance. After the initial cable TV broadcast in 1994, "Naftaztec" was edited from ninety minutes to an hour and packagedas a videocassette, which can be purchasedfrom the School of the Art Instituteof Chicago and which is advertisedin the back of TheNew WorldBorder.21 In a comment on the ideal of interactivity, the performance not only encouraged viewer response by telephone but also was transmitted over computer networks, so that e-mail messages could be sent to the performers.The implication is that this performancereflects on the media packaging and reappropriation of ethnic difference and of resistantattemptsto appropriate the media. It is no coincidence, then, that this performancealso thematizesskepticism toward the use of virtualreality technologies and toward cyberspace and its increasing romanticization as a site of freedom in which to perform and to reinventoneself. The Chicano Virtual Reality Machine: "Naftaztec" or computer simulation be harMightvirtualreality nessed, one wonders,for the purposes of multicultural or transnationalpedagogy, in order to communicate, for example,whatitfeels like to be an "illegalalien"pursued by theborder police or a civil rightsdemonstratorfeeling the lash of police in theearly1960s? brutality -Ella Shohat andRobert theImperial Stam,"From to the Transnational Family (166) Imaginary"

"Naftaztec" is set in an undergroundbunker, "somewherebetween Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City." I have already described how its two main characters,El Naftazteca (GomezPena) and Cyber-Vato (Sifuentes), introduce themselves. El Naftaztecagoes on to emphasize how the broadcastis intended to provide a live demonstration of "my Chicano virtual reality machine,"which allows him to "turnmy memories into video images,"to "retrieve any episode of my life, [. . .] any personaor hidden self that exists within me, or any historicalevent involving my family and my raza,"and to "edit these memories on the spot and turn them into video Border 112-13). footage"(New World This introduction emphasizesthe dual function of technology, which preservesat the same time that it mediates (or distorts) ethnic identities and cultural traditions. But it also figures the redefinition of location that is emerging in the discourse on cyberspaceand virtualsystems and relates that redefinitionto racial and ethnic communities, la raza. El Naftazteca goes on to introduce part 1 of the performance, "a brief history of performanceart"reviewing G6mezPefia's career. He warns viewers that as they "watch the following video memory" they should rememberthat "we are merely mythical creatures created by your cultural fears and erotic desires." Laughing, El Naftazteca remarks that "our video-memories will soon be yours" and that "Americanidentity is a messy business, que no?" (114). The mediarepresentation of Chicano history and culture simultaneously captures them and makes them available to others. The danger is that this access to Chicano "video-memories" will transform them into simple commodities, abstractedfrom any local context and translatableinto non-Chicano culturalvocabularies.The value of this accessiof Chibility is that it resists the transformation cano cultureinto closed and noncommunicable "codesof self-recognizing andtherefore identity" into a "fundamentalist affirmation" (Castells 350). From this perspective, the packaging of

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ethnic expropriations of the media is an inescapable risk that any attemptto articulatethe Fourthand Fifth Worldsmust take. The negotiationof this predicament informs the firstdemonstration of the Chicanovirtual realthe 2000. This scene is ity machine, Technopal framedin termsof the valueof such technologies for diasporic populations, since El Naftazteca commentson how immigrantsmight be tempted either to "immerse ourselves in nostalgia for a homelandthatno longerexits"or to "embrace our condition as unwanted present public enemies, minorities,andbecome politicized, as painfulas it may be"(this scene is includedon the videotape of the performance but omitted from the published version).The rhetoricof immersionin nostalgia invokes the immersive qualities of virtual reality computerinterfaces, in which hardware suchas the head-mounted displayand peripherals dataglove are intendedto producethe sensation of being inside a computergraphic.This collapsing of the alienatingdistancebetweenviewerand screenis often celebratedas one of the main, liberatoryaccomplishmentsof virtualreality interfaces.ThequestionG6mez-Peia raisesis whether or not virtualrealitycan be madeto producepainthanescapistfantasy. rather ful politicization This questionremainsopen while the Technopal 2000 is introduced,since the performance emphaticallyuses racial stereotypesto markthe technology as Chicano.El Naftaztecabegins by "Let'stry the virtualrealcalling to Cyber-Vato, Mexican nostalgia, please" ity sombrero.Some (another scene omitted from the book).22The sombrero stands in for the head-mounted display, so that the virtual reality technology is initially presented as reproducing rather than disruptingstereotypes(fig. 5). While the conflation of high technology and the primitivemight seem to destabilize the conventional image of the Mexican, G6mez-Pefiapresents immersion in a computer graphic as intensifying the collapse of any possible distinctionbetween media images and real persons, and that collapse here works in the favor of the media image.

In contrastto the strandof thinkingthatcelebratesvirtualreality for its immersivequalities and collapse of dualistic distinctions, another perspectivearguesthat the value of virtualreality interfacesderivesfrom the split they produce between the physical and the virtual.This view makes it possible to define the relevance of virtual realityto El Naftazteca'sreflectionson how migrant, racialized subjects cannot enter the public sphere except as "public enemies" and "unwantedminorities." Stone has recently argued that virtualreality systems should be contextualized in the history of the public sphere and of its constructionof the moderncitizen as "composedof two majorelements,"the "collection of physical and performativeattributes" referred to as the "culturally intelligible body" and the "collection of virtual attributeswhich, taken together,compose a structureof meaning and intention for the first part," primarily throughinstitutionaland discursive means, discipline in Foucault's sense. For Stone, location technologies, defined as mechanisms for "the productionand maintenanceof [a] link between a discursive [or virtual] space and a physical space,"long precede the invention of virtualreality computer interfaces (40). In this reading, virtualreality technologies merely literalize the nationalpublic sphere's longstandinghistorical techniques for disembodying citizens (in terms of gender and ethnicity) to renderthem generically American.This use of the public sphereas a cultural context for the emergence of virtual systems opens the possibility for reading those technologies in relationto racialhistories. andLauThe AmericanistsMichael Warner attraction renBerlanthaveanalyzedhow the"real lies "inthe way the citizen of abstract citizenship" conventionally acquires a new body,"a virtual body, "by participation in the political public sphere"(Berlant 113). But this access to a new, virtual body is available only to those (white, male, middle-class)subjectswhose physicalbodies are constructed as transcendablein the first to theinescapably particularized place,in contrast

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FIG. 5
G6mez-Pena as El Naftazteca, testing thevirtual reality sombrero.

bodiesof minoritized subjects.Fromthis theoretof "minorities" ical perspective,the construction can be understood as a processof denyingthema virtualbody or, more accurately,denying them the possibilityof relatingtheirparticular physical andthis bodies to theirpossible virtualattributes, theoreticalcontext defines the attractionvirtual realitymighthavefor suchsubjects. The second scene in which the Chicanovirtual reality machine appears offers a more extended reflection on the value and limits of virtualreality for minoritizedsubjects. El Naftazteca begins by outlining how the use of the sombrerowas one stage in a miniaturization that began with a virtualreality poncho and that has now moved on to the bandanna. Sifuentes as Cyber-Vatothen enters, wearing the ethnicized virtual reality costume (fig. 6). The audience watches the blindfolded figure of Cyber-Vato pretend to negotiate a series of computersimulated environments controlled by El Naf-

to detazteca, who repeatedlyasks Cyber-Vato scribe what he is seeing and experiencing. Cyber-Vato begins by describingbeing drivenin a car; when El Naftazteca asks what the driver is wearing, Cyber-Vatoreplies a blue uniform and dark glasses, cheerfully adding that "he seems like a cool guy."El Naftazteca plays the typical role of a computer programmer(at a trade show, for instance) encouraginga novice user to explore the options in a simulation and an interface,so that onlookers receive the most When El Naftazteca interestingdemonstration. to get the driver'sattentionby tells Cyber-Vato finally tappinghim on the shoulder,Cyber-Vato realizes that he is in a police car with his hands cuffed. In what will become a motif, he panics and asks El Naftaztecato take "thispinche helmet off me," while El Naftazteca tries to calm him down andremindshim that"it'sonly virtual reality."As the simulated policeman begins to with a nightstick,he refuses assault Cyber-Vato

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is inevitableto the extent thatvirreracialization tual reality is a medium for social interaction, more analogous to the telephone than to television. In that sense, racialized modes of perception are inevitablyimportedto cyberspace,and racial fantasies are restaged there. As a visual medium,virtualrealitynecessarilyinvokes such for readingbody images. culturalframeworks This interpretationof G6mez-Pena's dramatizationof Chicano virtualrealities works in at least two ways. The playing out of racialized scenarios in virtual reality implies that virtual reality offers no escape from real life, but equally it implies thatminoritizedsubjectsoften experience real life as a kind of virtualfantasy with material consequences, as when Cyber6 to jump out of the speeding car, even in virtual Vatofaces a beatingby a policemanpresumably FIG. for no reasonotherthanthe policeman'spercepSifuentesas Cyber- reality, and begs El Naftazteca to "change the the is ese!" because "this too tion of Cyber-Vato'sracialized body as always Vato,testing (New real, program," virtual WorldBorder 120). El Naftazteca obliges by "Chicano alreadya threat.El Naftazteca'scontinualasserrealitymachine." shifting to a simulation of a soothing desert tions that it is just virtualreality, in the face of Cyber-Vato's panicked reactions, underscore landscape, which Cyber-Vatoenjoys until the of a "migrahelicopter." this irony and the complex bordersbetweenvirappearance tual experiences and real life. It is not just virWhile continuingthe play with ethnic cosinto virtualrealityhardware, tual reality,as El Naftaztecaclaims it is, but it is tumes transformed not all real either, despite Cyber-Vato'sexclathe simulations that Cyber-Vatodescribes go mations.This readingsuggests that virtualrealfurtherby placing him in the position of a victim of police violence and the object of border ity might make visible the ways in which that recalls Ella Chicano in a Shohat experience, for example, cannot be way patrolscrutiny, and Robert Stam's speculations about whether distinguished from such "involuntaryperformances" of other people's racial fantasies, the virtualreality might be used as a form of transwhat it is like modes of "mistakenidentity"that G6mez-Pena nationalpedagogy,to demonstrate reflects on elsewhere in the video as an Amerito experiencepolice brutalityor be treatedas an can "nationalsport,"summed up by the quesillegal immigrant. The obvious point of these tion "didI see you on the TV of my fears?" simulations is to indicate that virtualreality ofof This readingalso suggests thatBerlant'sarthe limitations real life. from fers no escape Use of the Chicano virtual reality machine gumentabouthow minoritysubjectsare denied the right to the prostheticor prophylacticsocial results only in a kind of reracialization of one that On virtual level, body of the abstract American citizen in the Cyber-Vato's image. reracializationis a commentaryon the popular public spheremightbe reversible.Is Cyber-Vato of minoritybodthe particularizing dramatizing utopianrhetoricof cyberspaceas a place where how he often finds or is he are a limitations ies, demonstrating meaningless, simple bodily if his were as himself treated always albody repetition of the traditionallogic of the public citizenship.23 ready virtual,a screen for others' fantasies, his sphereand the ideology of abstract life just playing on the TV of our fears? Is he On another level, the simulations suggest that

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dramatizing his forced embodiment as a Chicano or his virtualizationand disembodimentas an Anglo fantasy? In this sense, G6mez-Peiia's Chicanovirtualreality machinerestages or doubles the paradoxical relation between hypervisibility or overembodiment and invisibility, associated,in an AfricanAmericancontext,with Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.24The Chicano virtualreality machinemakes visible the double experienceof havinga body thatis too definitely marked,too easily read, but that for that reason does not register to (Anglo) others as needing any interpretiveattention.On one level, the virtual reality scene simply doubles the jeopardy and exactly imitatesthis traditional construction of the racializedphysicalbody.On anotherlevel, G6mez-Peiia's Technopal 2000 suggests the possibility of crossingcategories,of makingvisible and sensible the virtualor the invisible and at the same time demonstrating the intangibility of the physical,its virtualdimension. Gomez-Pefia's depiction of virtual reality satirizes the currentinterest in cyberspace as a possible site of freedom from the body and its limitations-that is, cyberspace as a site for crossing the bordersof personal experience, as do people who assume different genders on the Internet. At the same time, his presentation of virtual reality implies that it also has a critical value for Chicanos, one that lies primarily in reading virtual scenarios back into the physical spaces of everydaylife. The borderbetween the Fourthand Fifth Worldsturnsout to be no more fixed than the other bordersG6mez-Pefia's miartroutinelycrosses. grantperformance

NOTES
1Rouse's influential1991 essay on Mexican migrationas a transnationalformationand as a postmodernsocial space Fox begins by quotingG6mez-Pefia("MexicanMigration"). critiques Rouse for taking G6mez-Peia as a spokesperson for borderculture(69); I will returnto this issue below. 2Kuhnheim of performance arguesthatthe textualization artin printedtexts is partof a largerstrategyof G6mez-Pefia's

that includes the packaging of performancesin video or CD recordings(G6mez-Pefiaand Sifuentes's Templeof Confessions comes with a CD). She suggests thatG6mez-Pefiauses such packagingsto commenton commodityculture'sability into consumerproducts(27). to turnresistanceandsubversion 3 See Ahmad'sexcellent historicaldiscussionof the Bandung Conference and the three-worldstheory,in ch. 8 of In review,G6mez-Pefiacites the colTheory.In the topography lapse of the opposition between First and Second Worlds, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, as makingit possible to go beyond the model of the ThirdWorldand to define nonnationalmodes of collective identity.P6rez-Torres uses similar language to describe how Chicano culture "perpetually negotiates" four or five worlds, though he defines those worldsotherthanG6mez-Pefiadoes, ending with nonnationalized indigenousculturesand thereforenot includingtransnationalmediaculture,G6mez-Pefia's FifthWorld(29). 4 The association of Fourth Worldwith the native peoples of the Americasdates back at least to GeorgeManuelin the 1970s, though G6mez-Pefiaseems to use the term more loosely and to apply it to ethnic minoritiesin Europeancontexts as well. Brotherston historicizesthe specifically American concept of the Fourth World, emphasizing the continuity of native traditions.In contrastto G6mez-Pefia, Silko's novel Almanac of the Dead offers an alternative elaborationof the FourthWorld'srelevanceto contemporary transnational racial politics. Whereas G6mez-Pefiatends to assimilate indigenous peoples to a diasporic or migrant model, Silko's novel moves in the opposite direction,assimilating groups like African Americans to a model of "tribal internationalism." Almanac also draws more of a distinction between this Fourth-World tribal internationalismand conmedia and computertechnologies. temporary 5 Smith and Katz drawon Lefebvre'saccountof the capitalist shift from absolute spaces to abstractones, which are defined as spaces "of exchange and communications, and thereforeof networks"(Lefebvre 266). Partof the originality of G6mez-Pefia's definition of the Fourth World is his treatmentof it as a kind of abstractspace and not as a precapitalist survival of place-based social forms. However, G6mez-Pefia has also been criticized for this movement away from the materialityof places, as we shall see. If the shift to what Castells calls the abstract "space of flows" (348) is partof the internallogic of capital, as Lefebvre argues, then to what extent can this new space of flows provide a basis for resistance? 6 G6mez-Pefia'sincreasinginterestin high technology is one of the reasons I disagree with Fox's characterization of his skepticism towardtechnology; whereas Fox argues that G6mez-Pefiadiffers from cyberpunkscience fiction writers in his dystopianview of technology (73, 81n60), I arguethat he has taken the characterizationof his work as cyberpunk seriously and has begun to explore what it would mean for a Mexican Americanartistto be a cyberpunk. 7Kolko,Nakamura, andRodman, "Race"1. See Nakamura for an analysisof the relativelyimpoverished constructions of

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racial personae in Internetchat rooms and in other forms of text-based virtualcommunity("Race").I have attemptedto explain this impoverishment,given the focus on forms of gendered and sexual identity play in virtual communities The collection editedby Kolko, Nakamura, and ("Trapped"). Rodmanis an important corrective to the lack of attention race criticism. hasreceivedin cyberculture 8 am indebtedto CynthiaSteele for this suggestion. 9 For such characterizations, see Saldivar, on G6mezPefia's popularizingof borderart and his success in spatializing "in-betweenness" (152); Perez-Torres's posing of to nationalist G6mez-Pefia'sborderidentityas an alternative politics (93); Davis, on G6mez-Pefia's embracing of "the Border"(18); and Rouse ("MexicanMigration"8). 10For this reason,I thinkFox is wrongto suggest thatthe problemwith NAFTA, from G6mez-Pefia'sperspective,was its lack of attentionto culturalissues (74). For Fox, G6mezto economicsand Pefia'sweaknesslies in his lack of attention to the uneven relations of different social groups to border crossing (75). It seems to me plausible to read G6mez-Pefia to turnhis rhetoric as tryingto use NAFTAas an opportunity towardlargersocial andeconomicissues, even if he is not entirely successful in this project.Davis makes a similar argument abouthow the forms of "cultural bifocality"thatRouse describedin his 1991 essay as an accomplishmentof Mexican migrationhave after NAFTA become economically ex(81). ploitableas "positiveexternalities" and l Berelowitzoffers the best accountof the BAW/TAF G6mez-Pefia's break with it, including G6mez-Pefia's responses to the criticismhis essay generated(70-81). See also Fox (63-64, 66). Hicks's BorderWritingand the edited colof the andKelley offerdocumentation lectionby G6mez-Pefia BAW/TAF by artistsinvolved in it. Of special interestis Avalos's answer to G6mez-Pefia'sclaims of the death of border art,which contains some of the most direct personalattacks on G6mez-Pefia, from the perspective of an artist closely identified with Chicano nationalism; Berelowitz explains manyof Avalos'sinside referencesto the historyof the BAW/ TAF(81-82). See G6mez-Pefia'sresponse to these kinds of criticisms(DangerousBorderCrossers181-82), in which the as strategicandshifting. artistdescribeshis self-presentation 12Berelowitz begins her essay by raising some similar questions about the extent to which border art should be site-specific and might legitimately be generalized in postmoder culture(69). 13 In addition to the Aztec-high tech pun that shows up in the 1991 essay on the death of border art, G6mez-Pefia had already linked "cholos" (a slang term for Mexican Americanstreet culture,emphasizingits mestizo roots) and "punks"as early as 1985 (qtd. in Saldivar 153-54), almost certainlyencouragedby Jaime Hernandezand GilbertHernandez's alternativecomic book Love and Rockets, which told stories of the involvement of Chicano and Chicana charactersin punk rock and incorporatedelements of pulp science fiction and space travel. Cyberpunk, I will argue,

also provided a model for synthesizing these various culturalelements, which were alreadypresentin G6mez-Pefia's and writing. performances 14Berelowitzdescribesthe circulationof the same rhetoric in the BAW/TAF,whose art was informedby a "revoluworldof multi-andintercultural tionarydreamof a borderless I believe that G6mez-Pefiaironically cites (71). exchange" this kind of rhetoricin "Freefallingtowarda BorderlessFuwithout ture,"acknowledgingits conservativeappropriation his uses of that rhetoric for further purposes. simplyrejecting 15 Jamesonfamously associates postmodernculturewith the perceived disappearance of all types of hermeneutic depthmodels, includingmanifestand latentor conscious and unconscious (12). Saldivar analyzes representationsof Tijuana as a borderzone in which social space is redefinedin he posits termsof this collapse of categoriesand boundaries; G6mez-Pefiaas the most extremeexample (131).On the level Butlerhas most directlyaddressed of theoriesof subjectivity, the danger of homogenization that results from this type of collapse, given that her model of performativityis also understood as challenging expressive models that depend on distinctionsbetweenbodily surfacesandinneressences (28). 16 chroniThe New World Bordercontainsa performance cle that discusses the history of this technique in G6mezPefia's work (96-97). The most notorious example is "The in which G6mez-Pefiaandhis collabWorldTour," Guatinaui oratorCoco Fusco exhibitedthemselves as "authentic primitives" in cages in museums and public spaces, often being mistakenfor actualspecimenson display.Foranalysesof this andTaylor. see Kelly; Kirshenblatt-Gimblett; performance, 17 At one such earlier site, Templeof Confessions(www .echonyc.com/-confess/), users were invited to "confess cyber-sins"as well as "fears,desires, fanyour intercultural tasies and mythologies." This site is associated with the CorcoranGallery of Art, in New YorkCity, where G6mezPefia staged a numberof performancesand installationsbetween 12 October and 30 December 1996, as described at The performance www.echonyc.com/~confess/review.html. "Ethno-cyberpunk Trading Post and Curio Shop on the Electronic Frontier"was combined with a Web site of that title createdby the Rice University Art Gallery,in Houston Hakken's book on (riceinfo.rice.edu/projects/CyberVato/). cyberspaceethnographydefines some of the challenges that this medium poses to traditionalanthropologicalmethods, challenges G6mez-Pefia sets out to exploit. For instance, Hakken points out that fieldwork in cyberspace is complicated by the lack of "geographic'thereness,'"as well as by the multisitednesscreatedby hypertextlinks (58, 59). In addition, computer-mediated communication raises basic in virtualculquestions aboutwhat constitutesparticipation tures and abouthow to conceptualizethe agent of culturein highly mediatedenvironments(60, 69). 18As G6mez-Pefa puts it in Friendly Cannibals, "[S]ocial, media, pop cultural, and virtualrealities have become they feed off each other,reflect, and reinindistinguishable;

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terpret one another in kaleidoscopic and multidirectional ways. And so does identity (personal and transnational)" (G6mez-Pena and Chayoga 12). Saldivar offers a similar reading of an earlier performance text of G6mez-Pefia's, suggesting that the artist's work is "'about' culturalreconversion," a process of mutual appropriabilitythat G6mezPefia associates with the borderization elaborated in "The New WorldBorder"(Saldivar 157). The fullest elaboration of Hall's approachto black popular culture is Gray's work on the mixed nature of black television programs such as The CosbyShow (10, 83-84). 19For similar critiques of official or corporate transnational cultures, see Sonnega; Miyoshi. Sonnega focuses especially on the ways that new computer graphic techniques such as morphing reinforce the logic of marketdrivenmulticulturalism. 20Price similarly notes how electronic communications are characterized toward by a high degreeof "addressability" narrow audiences or demographic units, which need no longerbe in physicalproximity.Price sees these technologies as resultingin a "closingof the speech terrain" and in the formationof "intenseand exclusive diasporiccommunities,assembledalong ethnic,class, or interestlines"(79-80). 21G6mez-Peia offers a fuller account of the production process of "Naftaztec" in Dangerous Border Crossers (79-81). The videocassetteversion of the performanceis titled El Naftazteca:Cyber-Aztec TVfor 2000 A.D. 22This attemptto mark virtualreality equipmentethnically finds a parallel in Vizenor's story "Bone Courts," which introducesa Native American virtualreality apparatus that includes, instead of a data glove, an "electronic moccasin"designed to allow others (in this case, a judge) to "enterthe shadowrealitiesof tribalconsciousness"(84). 23This rhetoric of disembodiment might be traced in partto Gibson's Neuromancer,where the main character,a computerhacker,lives for "thebodiless exultationof cyberspace"and buys into "theelite stance"of "relaxedcontempt for the flesh. The body was meat" (6). Hayles offers an extended critique of this rhetoric (Posthuman).For a nonfictional example, one might turn to a document originally distributedonline by Barlow as a protest against the 1996 Communications Decency Act and its attempt to regulate Internetcontent (now ruled unconstitutional).Barlow's "A Declarationof the Independenceof Cyberspace"concludes that "we must declare our virtualselves immuneto [government] sovereignty [and physical coercion], even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies"(83). 24Ellison's fictional representationof the sermon "The Blackness of Blackness" ("black is" and "black ain't"; "blackwill make you" and "blackwill unmakeyou" [9-10]) is often taken as a classic statementof the performativenature of racial identity, in this case African American. See, e.g., Gates (236-37) and Benston's essay on "performing blackness," which contrasts Ellison with Amiri Baraka. Hayles briefly suggests a similar parallel between virtual

reality technologies and Ellison's Invisible Man when she says some of the privileged themes of fictional narratives about virtual reality technology are "markedbodies, the longing for invisibility,stigmatathat also become sourcesof ("Seductions"183). strength"

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