"The Brick People" by Alejandro Morales, novel and documentary: A story of intercultural (mis)communication

Conference object English OPEN
Lanslots, Inge ; Van Hecke, An (2015)
  • Subject: Morales, Alejandro | Documentaries (Visual studies) | Intercultural studies

"The Brick People" by Alejandro Morales, novel and documentary: A story of intercultural (mis)communication The focus of this study is an analysis of the novel The Brick People published by the Chicano author Alejandro Morales in 1988 and its homonymous documentary film from 2012. Both narrations are based on a true story, namely the lives of Mexican immigrants at the beginning of the twentieth century, who worked as employees in Simons Brickyard in Los Angeles, California. Simons Brickyard was a remarkable company founded out of a utopian vision. The Mexican workers had access to all basic services –a school, a hospital, a store etc.– and lived together as one big family. Nonetheless, historians now depict Simons Brickyard as a perfect form of planned segregation which led to exploitation and poverty. In the official U.S. history, this part of Mexican migration in California in the twentieth century has been explicitly ignored. This study will try to reveal how the novel and the documentary deal with this emptiness or interstice in North-American history and how they reflect this cultural divide in Southern California. We are particularly interested in how both the novelist and the documentary makers turn the topics of integration, of preservation of the own cultural identity and of cross-cultural dialogue into narratives.
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