The Latinx Side of Western America

Fernanda  Díaz-Basteris's picture
October 2, 2020
Iowa, Italy
Subject Fields: 
Chicana/o History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Film and Film History, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies

Conference: Visual Depictions of the American West. How the West Was Drawn and What It Showed Us. Venice, 13-16 September 2021.


Panel: The Latinx Side of Western America.

Chair: Dr. Fernanda Díaz-Basteris, Cornell College.


The global production and distribution of Latinx graphic narratives, films, sitcom-format mainstream shows, digital visual products, and storytelling projects can be seen as a fairly new literary and narrative trend undergoing rapid evolution in the United States. Netflix shows like “One Day at a Time” or “Gente-fied” were produced during the same years as the graphic novels Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer. Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life (Ledesma, 2017) and Undocumented. A Worker’s Fight (Tonatiuh, 2018). Street murals, street signs, stickers, patches, comics, graphic novels, digital zines, illustrated short stories, webcomics, Instagram comics, and massive block-long illustration projects are constantly produced and distributed by multidisciplinary sources and independent visual artists around the major cities of the American West. The storytelling of these graphic products travels from El Paso borderline to Phoenix AZ, from Tijuana to San Diego to LA and Oakland, and passes through Portland all the way to Seattle. The Western side of the U.S. explores through these narratives’ diverse themes of anti-romantic realities inside the empire; this production can represent or misrepresent the force and contribution that undocumented communities bring to the American western society. Narratives displaying colonization, borders, national identity, first-generation American life experiences, bilingualism, the resistance of ancient tribes, the strong indigenous activism, and the childhood of undocumented kids explore problematic ideas about belonging, citizenship, and cultural identity that deserve in-depth analysis due to the current socio-political charged climate in the U.S. around equity and inclusion.

This panel will focus on the representation, and misrepresentation of Latinx communities in visual works to find spaces of reconciliation between scholarship, mainstream outlets, and independent visual-cultural markets. In recent years, more scholars around the world have become interested in including the graphic and broader visual representation of immigrants’ struggles within conferences, departments, and syllabi. This panel is open to comics scholars, audiovisual communication scholars, independent Latinx artists, Latinx scholars, book creators, visual-cultural producers, art curators, and all of whom are interested in analyzing and discussing the storytelling that shines a light on narratives of conflict, displacement, resistance, and negotiation in the western side of the United States. We encourage participants to deliver intersectional approaches between genres, stories, and languages. This panel is meant to be a place to learn and discuss our honest ideas of the American experience on the Western side of the USA.


Proposals of up to 2000 characters including spaces (around 350 words) must be sent to by Friday 2 October 2020 at 11:59 pm CET. Proposers must indicate their e-mail address and eventual affiliation. We encourage proposals in English and Spanish.


Possible graphic narratives to explore:

Alberto Ledesma – Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer

Lalo Alcaraz – Migra Mouse; La Cucaracha

Henry Barajas – La Voz de M.A.Y.O. Tata Rambo

Breena Nuñez

Isabel Quintero – My Papi Has a Motorcycle

Frederick Luis Aldama – Tales From La Vida, Latinx Comics Anthology

Daniel Alarcón – City of Clowns

Zines and zines festival in the East Bay (SF, Oakland, Berkeley, etc)

The BAYlies. Queer and Cartoonist of Color

J. Gonzo – La Mano del Destino

Rosa Colon

Contact Info: 

Dr. Fernanda Díaz-Basteris

Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish

Cornell College