Mexican-American Balladry Tradition as a Paradigm for Chicano Identity

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Yay İ. C.

11th Eurasian Conference on Language & Social Sciences, Yakova, Kosovo, 2 - 03 February 2021, pp.264

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Yakova
  • Country: Kosovo
  • Page Numbers: pp.264
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Taking its name from the Spanish verb correr, which means “to run” or “to flow,” the corridos are a special form of narrative folk songs within the age-old bulk of Mexican balladry tradition – especially, those of epic themes. Américo Paredes, one of the foremost scholars of the corridor proper, claims that the socio-historical conjunctures from the 1836 “incident” at Alamo to the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo successively prepared the historical stage for the mid-19th century rise of “the heroic corrido of border conflict” in the border-zone, straddling between Mexico and the U.S. along the Río Grande. Thus, this peculiar corpus of balladry tradition has occupied an exceptional gravity in the socio-historical, cultural, and psychological spheres of Mexican-Americans, living as a so-called “ethnic minority” in their own patrimonial lands in the southwestern states of the U.S. since 1848. Following Paredes’s lead, the present overview focuses on a single corrido, titled “El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez,” which has come to epitomize the longings of Mexican-Americans for democracy, equality, and full civil, cultural and territorial rights from the early 20th-century onward. The two central paradigms that the corrido genre offers are (1) the heroic border-man, defending his right with his pistol in his hand, as the paragon of “Mexican-American” ethnic identity, set against the political and cultural sway of Anglo-Americans and their vilifying stereotypes in print culture; and (2) the U.S.-Mexico borderlands as a strictly topographical “buffer zone” where the cultural and de facto collusions between Anglo-Texans and Texas-Mexicans have occurred. While focusing on the eminence of these two paradigms, the present study contests the essentialist premise which has hitherto averred that the “clash of cultures” is the central paradigm that defines the border experience and identity. Because, with the ineluctable conjunctural and paradigmatic changes of grand proportions from the mid-1960s onward not only in the U.S., but throughout the entire globe, the border-zone phenomenon and the border-hero typology of the corrido proper needs to be revised afresh. The shift is an egalitarian call for cultural hybridity as proposed by Gloria Anzaldúa in Borderlands/La Frontera (1987). The present survey concludes with elaborations upon Anzaldúa’s perspective.