Reconfiguring the Digital and Cultural Borderlands’ Record through United Fronteras

The project United Fronteras, inspired by the project Around DH in 80 Days, looks to document the digital production of the borderlands. Using collaborative practices similar to Torn Apart/Separados, a team of humanities scholars with academic and personal knowledge of the Mexico-US border was formed to contribute “new competing, overlapping, and contestatory digital worlds…to tell the rich story of humanity” in this region. This is imperative in these moments when toxic rhetoric towards border communities continue to be discussed at a global scale (Risam 5). In this panel, four members of United Fronteras will present, in a Spanish and English format, the development of the project, its creation as a postcolonial digital humanities platform, one of its principal objectives, and some examples of digital border community’s resistance.

Each speaker will present for 12 minutes with 12 minutes for discussion with the audience. The first presentation, “Building Bridges Uniendo Fronteras,” focuses on the development of the project. With the team members located in either side of the U.S.-Mexico division line interaction was limited to various forms of communication challenging the notion of borders from the start. Its mission, goals, values and vision are a reflection of the team’s facultad that Gloria Anzaldúa described in Borderlands/La Frontera as “the capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities, to see the deep structure below the surface” (60). That is to say that our personal experiences, struggles and knowledge contest to the rhetoric of prejudice, xenophobia, and ignorance about the border leading to the development of United Fronteras.

The second presentation, “United Fronteras: Un proyecto de humanidades digitales poscoloniales,” is an overview of United Fronteras, a collaborative-based and non-funded project in This initiative brings together active and inactive works that leverage digital components to document the borderlands from multiple perspectives (literature, archives, art, oral histories, music, among others) from pre-colonial times to the twenty-first century. United Fronteras uses minimal computing and geospatial tools to visualize selected projects in order to offer audiences a unique opportunity to meaningfully engage in the multi-dimensional layers of border spaces through multi-disciplinary, institutional, community-based, and individual collaborations.

The third presentation, “Documenting the Borderlands Cultural and Digital Record” discusses one of the principal objectives of United Fronteras’ first phase, working with the Mexico-United States border region. By tracing and documenting the cultural and digital record of this transnational border region, it is possible to bring to the forefront the various ways in which the interaction between the global north and south has been showcased, imagined and explored. Meanwhile, this postcolonial record also offers what Roopika Risam calls a “framework of embracing different digital humanities practices,” in which this project is recompiling local praxis utilizing digital companions “to intervene in the digital cultural record—to tell new stories, shed light on counter-histories, and create spaces for communities to produce and share their own knowledges” (5).

The final presentation, “The Real Border Emergency: Resisting National Discourse through Digital Platforms in the RGV,” will focus on specific projects that use digital components to resist patriarchal, economic and official histories through archives, poetry and social and political activism in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. Together, these speakers articulate a vision for postcolonial interventions through a collaborative-based humanities project that reconfigures the cultural and digital record of the borderlands.