Presidential Address for IASA 8th World Congress, Laredo TX, 12-21 July 2017


manuel broncano rodríguez
Texas A&M International University
Presidential Address for IASA 8th World Congress
Laredo TX, 12-21 July 2017
Laredo is located in the vicinity of the Rio Grande/Bravo, in many senses the epitome of the border, of the frontier, of the “limen” in its etymological sense of “threshold,” “doorway,” or “limit.” The general theme of our reunion was “Marginalia: The Borders of the Border,” and the contributions the IASA members made addressed this theme from multiple perspectives, thus leading to most enriching discussions about one of the most written about topics in the scholarship of the last few decades. Such a topic has rekindled new interest, especially in the light of the recent political transformations in many regions of the globe, which are leading to revived feelings of essentialist nationalism and its atavistic fears of the other, call it the immigrant, the dissenter or, if you want, the barbarian. It is happening in Turkey, it is happening in Poland, it is happening in Britain, it is happening in the US. In this context, borders and walls, both physical and ideological, are being erected once again. Marginalia, in turn, is a Latin term that in its origins referred to the inscriptions that monks and other amanuensis made on the empty space surrounding the body of text inscribed on a parchment. Romance languages are largely the product of marginal inscriptions on Latin manuscripts. Thus, the first manifestations of the Spanish language are found in the glosses that monks scribbled on the margins of those manuscripts to clarify and comment on words whose meaning was already obscure for the medieval reader, and those annotations were made in the new romance language, which was nothing but macaronic Latin. By extension, marginalia refers to those writings that do not belong in the canonical body of works of a culture or civilization, and is close in meaning to apocryphal. Furthermore, it can be understood as referring to the interstices that exist between two or more cultures, nations, or religions. In our usage of the term, marginalia refers to those areas of the world that are populated by displaced or uprooted individuals, limbic spaces in which mere survival may become an illegal activity. The present address seeks to explicate the essence of the basic concepts underlying—and driving—the theme of the Congress.


IASA; International American Studies Association; the future of American Studies; borders; limits; society; ethics

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Cavafy, Costantin. ¨Ithaka.” Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992.

Fernandez, Manny. “Checkpoints Isolate Many Immigrants in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.” The New York Times, November 22, 2015.

Frost, Robert. “Mending Wall.” North of Boston. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915;, 1999. [retrieved November 15, 2018].

Melville, Herman. “Bertleby the Scrivener.” The Piazza Tales. Kindle Edition.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Published : 2018-12-30

Broncano RodríguezM. (2018). Presidential Address for IASA 8th World Congress, Laredo TX, 12-21 July 2017. Review of International American Studies, 11(2). Retrieved from

Manuel Broncano Rodríguez
Texas A&M International University 5201 University Boulevard Laredo, TX 78041  United States
Manuel Broncano Rodríguez (Ph. D. Salamanca 1990) is a Regents Professor of English at Texas A&M International University. He is currently the president of the International American Studies Association (IASA). Before moving to Texas, he taught for two decades at the University of León (Spain). Broncano has published a number of scholarly works on various American authors such as Flannery O’Connor, Willa Cather, Faulkner, Melville, Poe, etc. His latest book was released in 2014, Religion in Cormac McCarthy’s Fiction: Apocryphal Borderlands (Routledge). Broncano has also kept an active agenda as translator. His latest translation is Giannina Braschi’s United States of Banana (Estados Unidos de Banana, AmazonCrossing 2014).

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