Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
De La Garza, Armida
Visual Synergies
Film and Documentary in Latin America
University of Cambridge and Royal Holloway University of London
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
Mockumentary as Post-nationalism: National Identity in A Day without a Mexican by Sergio Arau. The turn to neoliberalism in the 1990s proved decisive for Mexico, as the NAFTA project embraced by the Salinas administration entailed a re-definition of national identity, defined since the revolution as mestizo, Catholic and especially as the Other to the United States. And just as cinema was in those days a crucial discourse for this particular construction of the identity, it was in the 1990s equally instrumental to its redefinition, which largely focused on the role of migrants to the US, presented even as supplementary in the Derridean sense. In 1992, as part of these efforts, Sergio Arau directed a 20-minute mockumentary which in 2004 became a feature film, “A day without a Mexican.” As would befit more the seriousness of a documentary than the excess and parody of mockumentary, the stated aim in both was to advance a social agenda, arguing the case for immigrant labour and for Mexican presence in the US more generally. The film charts what would happen in California were all Latino immigrants to suddenly disappear, arguing chaos would ensue. Given the link between cinema and modernity as described, among others, by Mary Anne Doane, and the relevance of cinema for the nation as an alternative public sphere as theorised by Miriam Hansen, this paper looks at the implications of choosing mockumentary, taken by many to be a paradigmatic postmodern and hybrid form, to discuss national identity under ‘globalisation.’
University of Nottingham