The Utopian/Dystopian American Dream: Immigration and Labor in Latina/o Science Fiction

Reclaiming a History Threatened by Erasure

In Lunar Braceros 2125-2148, the entire novella is comprised of lunar posts, nano texts, and lessons that culminate into a technological archive that Lydia has given to her son Pedro in order to continue the historical and cultural memory of the world that they live in. Preserving this cultural and historical memory is Lydia’s primary objective and gestures toward a critical dystopia. Moylan describes that a key function to a critical dystopia is to:

…give voice and space to such dispossessed and denied subjects (and, I would add, to those diminished and deprived by the accompanying economic reconfigurations) they go on to explore ways to change the present system so that such culturally and economically marginalized people not only survive but also try to move toward creating a social reality that is shaped by an impulse to human self-determination and ecological health rather than one constricted by the narrow and destructive logic of a system intent only on enhancing competition in order to gain profit for a select few. (189)

As mentioned earlier, in Lydia’s job with the government as part of her prison sentence, she is tasked with purging historical archives about the government’s activities. However, in this role she also serves as a type of data thief[1] that is able to absorb this classified information and thus, decides to create an alternative archive that will allow those on the margins (such as herself) to have a space and a voice in the historical memory of their time. More important, this becomes a survival tool for her son Pedro to use as he must grow and learn from the archive since his parents have been missing for years. Lydia preserves these histories and memories in her alternative archive so that others can access and recuperate these unknown narratives in the future. She resists allowing her or her community to be erased from the past, present, or future, by taking on the role as historian and archivist. By gaining access to these secrets and untold histories, Lydia develops an alternative archive to revive memories that the government thought had been obliterated. With these memories, she can provide her community with information about the utopian visions that did not include people like them, and if it does, it is only for profitable reasons, leaving them in a state of complete dystopia and disadvantage. Possessing this truth is significant as a critical dystopia because it helps her in motivating the community to overthrow a system that attempts to control them not just geographically with the Reservations and on the moon, but psychologically as well, through the erasure of memories. This is a critical dystopia through which Lydia hopes to save these histories, people and voices from being erased from historical and cultural memory, and signifies the need to transform the present in order to ensure that people like her are able to survive in the future.

[1] The term “data thief” comes from John Akomfrah’s film The Last Angel of History (1996)

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