Abstract: Representations of Los Angeles’s freeways in Helena María Viramontes’s novel Their Dogs Came with Them (2007) and Karen Tei Yamashita’s novel Tropic of Orange (1997) expose the unevenness of contemporary mobility. The novels depict the power and possibility of mobility for some in the globalized economy alongside the violent consequences of socioeconomic immobility that these same venues of neoliberal economic development bring others. By representing the consequences of Los Angeles’s freeway system, the novels convey the unevenness of experiences of globalization, flows of migration, capital, goods and services across borders and within the unstated borders of specific communities. Through their focus on both displacement and mobility, the two works connect transportation geographies to older forms of conquest and colonization and to newer modes of neoliberal economic development. By emphasizing the ways these newer forms of economic control are haunted by violent colonial pasts, the texts attend to the relationship between older and newer forms of spatial control and the relations between both mundane and spectacular forms of oppression. They draw out the complexity and the consequences of transportation technologies by highlighting the physical and socioeconomic immobility that both shapes and produces the experiences of displaced Angelinos.
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Jun 7, 2013