The Borderlands Archive is an active collection of research, mappings and contributed artifacts from the U.S.- Mexico borderlands that symbolize connection across territorial divide. Collected objects and information represent physical, social, political and environmental connections that form a counter-narrative, or collective public record about a contested space between two countries. 

Canels Chiclets by Arturo Fuentes-Ortiz, 2018
Location: Oaxaca, MX |
Item Number: BLA 250219-02
Description/Materials: Mexican Bubble Gum
Date Collected: March 2018
Name of Contributor: Arturo  Fuentes-Ortiz 


A. What cross-border connection(s) does this object represent?

The object represents the people so there isn’t a specific location.

B. Additional Notes about the item or its history or how you found it.

I chose the candy bubblegum called Chiclets. It is bubblegum candy that is famously sold all throughout Mexico and the Borderlands. You can see this candy sold especially by kids on the street. 

Optional Questions:

C. What is your relationship to the artifact you contributed? (Or the place where the object comes from?)

I grew up in Oaxaca Mexico. The Chiclet represents a memory. It represents a time I crossed the border:

My mother had crossed the border from Mexico when she was about 25 years old. She had three kids in the States including me. Then when I was 1, my mom suffered a tragic accident at work, injuring her spine and needing heavy surgery. She was left in a wheelchair and as a single mother she was unable to take care of me, my brother and sister. She decided to send all three of us to Oaxaca, Mexico. There I was raised by my aunt (whom we nicknamed ‘Mami-Tia’) and grandparents. Our Mami-Tia raised us and she constantly reminded us that she wasn’t our mom. That our mom is in the states. But to us she was (hence the name ‘Mami-Tia’).  Then at 7 years old, my mom was healed from her wounds and was able to take care of us now.  She came to Oaxaca and we met her for the first time. We knew of her, we’ve seen pictures of her, but it was strange to meet someone who you knew everything about but nothing at all. She picked us up, and just like that, brought us to the Bay Area. During the airplane ride, my sister, brother, and I developed air pressure in our ears due to the altitude. Then our mom gave us Chiclet’s as a way to depressurize and heal the pain. It was the Chiclet’s that served as a reminder of what my family has gone through in order for me to have a better life. Not knowing why, I constantly had to leave a place or why my family lived in two places? The Chicle is not only an object but a symbol of one of millions of stories of families who have crossed the border. It is not just the crossings, but the lives affected after the crossings.  

D. Has the construction of a border changed your objects’ relationship to the place where you found it?

The border has always been to my family a gloomy place. It was always a place of death and dark times. My entire family crossed. So to me, the Chiclet is a reminder of the trajectory of my family’s legacy and my personal continuation of breaking down borders/barriers.

E. Why did you contribute to the archive?

I contributed to the archive because it is important to understand the stories of the people who cross the border. How this border holds intergenerational trauma, and how memory is attached to an object and to a place.


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