cover of book

by John-Michael Rivera
University of Arizona Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-0-8165-4300-7 | Paper: 978-0-8165-4003-7
Library of Congress Classification E184.M5R583 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.896872073


How do you document the undocumented? UNDOCUMENTS both poses and attempts to answer this complex question by remixing the forms and styles of the first encyclopedia of the New World, the Florentine Codex, in order to tell a modern story of Greater Mexico. Employing a broad range of writing genres and scholarly approaches, UNDOCUMENTS catalogs, recovers, and erases documents and images by and about peoples of Greater Mexico from roughly the first colonial moment. This brave and bracing volume organizes and documents ancient New World Mexican peoples from the Florentine Codex (1592) to our current technology-heavy age, wherein modern lawmakers and powerful global figures desire to classify, deport, and erase immigrants and their experiences.

While grappling with anxiety and the physical and mental health consequences of the way the United States treats immigrant bodies, John-Michael Rivera documents and scrutinizes what it means to seek opportunities in America. With a focus on the poetics of Latinx documentality itself, this book is concerned with the complicated and at times contradictory ways peoples of Greater Mexico have been documented and undocumented within systems of colonial knowledges, and how these peoples have been rendered as specters of the bureaucratic state. Rivera takes us through the painful, anxiety-ridden, and complex nature of what it means to be documented or undocumented, and the cruelty married to each of these states of being.
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