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Kirsten Nigro in Mexico:
Tracking the Border Impact

Date: Jan. 23, 2002
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photo by: Dottie Stover
Archive: Research News

There is a transformation taking place in Mexico and UC faculty member Kirsten Nigro wants to be among the first to study it. A Fulbright Scholar grant will allow her to so do, from Feb. 4 to May 31.

Kirsten Nigro

Nigro is a prior recipient of Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rockefeller Foundation.

For a long time, Mexico City has been the center of Mexican culture, particularly the country's arts and performing arts. It's sort of the way New York City used to be and still is somewhat. Today, the 2000-mile border shared by the United States and Mexico is starting to change that. More and more border cities in Mexico are developing robust and influential art scenes, according to Nigro, professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. She will begin her quest to examine the influence of border culture by basing herself in Tijuana, Mexico, just south of San Diego, for the first half of 2002. Then, in fall 2002, she will take her studies into the Ciudad Juarez during her sabbatical.

"My field of study is Mexican culture, literature and theater. More and more, you can't really talk about Mexico without talking about that border. The new border culture is about 75 miles wide on either side in Mexico and the United States. Many have studied this from the U.S. perspective and are interested in seeing how it has influenced the U.S. But I'm interested in how it is influencing Mexico," says Nigro, who has a Swedish and Italian heritage and was raised in Latin America.

Formal and alternative theater, street theater, stand-up comedy, performance and installation art and "Nortech" - an electronic music phenomenon that is sweeping the border region - are all among the areas she plans to newly discover. She will interview playwrights, actors, artists and many more people in this new border culture.

She will work on a book of photos, documenting "Performing Tijuana: Tijuana and Performance." She will also work closely with two major cultural organizations, Centro Cultural de Tijuana, the major cultural agency for Baha California, and Centro de Estudios Fronterizos, an academic center dedicated to border study. At the National Autonomous University of Baha California, she will be teaching a course on post-modern theater in Latin America. In April, she will give a series of public lectures on Latin American, border and Mexican theater.

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