Lowrider Cruising Spaces

By Ben Chappell

Américo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies
University of Texas at Austin, USA

This paper will be published in the forthcoming volume
edited by Marc Priewe: Representations of Chicano/a Cultures

*excerpt from beginning of text:

Lowriders are cars customized and driven in U.S. cities mostly by Mexican Americans in the southwest. In this paper I will argue that lowriding is a space-making practice, and interpretation that draws attention to several aspects of the car as a focus for cultural activity and social relations. First, it becomes clear that a car is a “space” or a site itself, a kind of mobile room which can be occupied by human bodies, yet with the help of internal combustion, moved easily from one location to another. In this way, one field of spatial production engaged by lowriders is the customization and decoration of the interior of the car as a luxurious pleasure zone, a small home for the owner and a place to entertain guests, perhaps friends who join the owner in cruising, or who they meet along the way. Moving outward from the space of the car itself, we can also view lowriders as mechanical bodies which move in space. This is the issue I will address in what follows.

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