Lowrider Space: Aesthetics and Politics of Mexican American Custom Cars (Paperback)

Lowrider Space: Aesthetics and Politics of Mexican American Custom Cars By Ben Chappell Cover Image
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Aren’t lowriders always gangbangers? And, don’t they always hold high status in their neighborhoods? Contrary to both stereotypes, the people who build and drive lowrider cars perform diverse roles while mobilizing a distinctive aesthetic that is sometimes an act of resistance and sometimes of belonging. A fresh application of critical ethnographic methods, Lowrider Space looks beyond media portrayals, high-profile show cars, and famous cruising scenes to bring readers a realistic tour of the “ordinary” lowriders who turn streetscapes into stages on which dynamic identities can be performed.Drawing on firsthand participation in everyday practices of car clubs and cruising in Austin, Texas, Ben Chappell challenges histories of erasure, containment, and class immobility to emphasize the politics of presence evidenced in lowrider custom car style. Sketching out a partially personal map of the lowrider presence in Texas’s capital city, Chappell also explores the interior and exterior adornment of the cars (including the use of images of women’s bodies) and the intersecting production of personal and social space. As he moves through a second-hand economy to procure parts necessary for his own lowrider vehicle, on “service sector” wages, themes of materiality and physical labor intersect with questions of identity, ultimately demonstrating how spaces get made in the process of customizing one’s self.

About the Author

Ben Chappell is Professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas.

Praise For…

The book is thus an example of a good, systematic analysis of spatial phenomena. The book ultimately explores the myriad ways that these cars can be experienced as spatial phenomena, and how such realities create a compelling visual culture.
— American Studies

Product Details
ISBN: 9780292754249
ISBN-10: 0292754248
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication Date: July 1st, 2012
Pages: 256
Language: English