Cholos, chúntaros, and the 'criminal' abandonments of the new frontier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By advancing what I am calling the new frontier of the United States and Mexico as central in the formation of subjectivities, this article foregrounds two contemporary figures: 'cholos' and the 'chúntaros.' The former is how a particular group of youths, who called themselves Barrio Libre or the Free'Hood, self-iDentified and the term is often common shorthand for 'gang' in much of the Americas. The term speaks to the premiere figure of an anxiety about unchecked, undocumented, and criminalized racial and cultural flows in the Americas. The cholos of Barrio Libre preyed on 'chúntaros,' the provincial 'hick' of an increasingly urbanizing,migrating Mexico. 'Chúntaros' has also become a term for the alien bodies that pass through daily projects of state sovereignty at the margins of two states, specifically United States and Mexican intensifying militarized policings and their dramatic abandonments. In this article, I situate these practices within the history of largely unacknowledged racisms in Mexico, tied to projects of mestizaje.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-713
Number of pages19
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Criminality
  • Frontier
  • Mexico
  • Race
  • State

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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