Viego argues that the repeated themes of wholeness, completeness, and transparency with respect to ethnic and racialized subjectivity are fundamentally problematic as these themes ultimately lend themselves to the project of managing and controlling ethnic and racialized subjects by positing them as fully knowable, calculable sums: as dead subjects. He asserts that the refusal of critical race and ethnic studies scholars to read ethnic and racialized subjects in a Lacanian framework—as divided subjects, split in language—contributes to a racist discourse. Focusing on theoretical, historical, and literary work in Latino studies, he mines the implicit connection between Latino studies’ theory of the “border subject” and Lacan’s theory of the “barred subject” in language to argue that Latino studies is poised to craft a critical multiculturalist, anti-racist Lacanian account of subjectivity while adding historical texture and specificity to Lacanian theory.
Menchaca lived in Santa Paula during the 1980s, and interviews with residents add a vivid human dimension to her book. She argues that social segregation in Santa Paula has evolved into a system of social apartness—that is, a cultural system controlled by Anglo Americans that designates the proper times and places where Mexican-origin people can socially interact with Anglos.
This first historical ethnographic case study of a Mexican-origin community will be important reading across a spectrum of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, race and ethnicity, Latino studies, and American culture.