Ethnography at the Border

Front Cover
Pablo Vila
U of Minnesota Press, 2003 - History - 345 pages
For cultural theorists, "the border" has proven a fluid and hybrid space profitably explored for new ideas about identity, gender, and ethnicity. But for those who occupy this region, the border is not merely a metaphor, but a lived experience, yielding immediate, often pressing ambiguities, problems, and perils. Focusing on a particular area of the U.S.-Mexico border, Ciudad Juarez-El Paso, Ethnography at the Border brings out the complexity of the border experience through the voices of the diverse people who inhabit the region. In a series of ethnographic essays that investigate specific aspects of border existence, the contributors provide rich and detailed insights into such topics as life in illegal subdivisions, called colonias, in Texas; the experience of actually crossing the bridge between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez; the impact of Operation Blockade on illegal crossings; the controversy surrounding El Paso Border Patrol's proposal for a border wall in Sunland Park; the paradoxes of making "American products" using Mexican workers; and the relevance of grassroots efforts, environmental problems, and the multiple meanings of "Mexican." The final chapter offers a critique of the all too metaphorical border often depicted by cultural studies. Painstakingly conveying how the border looks and feels to those on both sides, Ethnography at the Border transmutes statistics on migration, labor markets, and economic trends--as well as conceptualizations of cross-cultural identities--into the experience, the observations, and the troubling lessons of border life.
 

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Contents

Reflections from the Bridge
1
Mexican Maquiladora
23
Making Subjects
46
Gender and the Overlapping of Region Nation and Ethnicity
73
The Polysemy of the Label Mexican on the Border
105
The Making
141
An Intertextual Reading of the Border
166
Democratic Debate versus
199
El Paso as an Eternal Yet Not Last Frontier
236
A Social
251
The Rearticulation of the Border Territory in the Stories
279
The Limits of American Border Theory
306
Contributors
343
Copyright

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