Accepted Paper:

Ethnographing the Mexican-American bordeland: the liminal space of Ciudad Juárez-El Paso  


Hugo Gaggiotti (University of the West of England)
Diana Marre (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Francisco Lara (National Institute of Anthropology and History Mexico)
Ana Vera (INAORB)

Paper short abstract:

The "muro" (wall) and the "puente" (bridge) are equally embedded in the cultural practices of Americans and Mexicans of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso. The paper discusses the liminality of the borderland and it's construction as a social space in-between the static and the mobile (Kearney, 1998).

Paper long abstract:

There are two cities that make up a distinctive space in the border states of Chihuahua (Mexico) and Texas (United States of America): Ciudad Juárez and El Paso. The two cities, united and divided by bridges, steel fences and a river and the product of politics, wars, drugs and the economies of scale of multinational corporations make up a space divided and united in two complementary and antagonistic parts. The chaotic, vibrant, uncontrollable and dangerous Ciudad Juárez, an urban paradise for assembly plants, drug trafficking, artistic youth expression, good and accessible food and cheap legal and illegal fun is the "obvious" counterpart of the McDonaldized (Ritzer, 2003), orderly, predictable and residential El Paso, aseptic and safe space, a city of reliable administrative, financial, educational and health services.

Marcus and Fischer (1986) have discussed organising in the borderlands as a particular complexity of constructing and representing the social, a "stable" space of separation, mobility, exchange, transformation and even "freedom". Berdahl's (1999) indeed calls for an understanding of the societies of the borderlands not as enmeshed in existing social and power relations but as different "ethnic" groups. Kearney has suggested the "wall" and the "bridge" epitomise the liminality of the borderland, a social space in-between the static and the mobile (Kearney 1991, 1995, 1998).

The paper discusses the authors fieldworks experiences with the pasojuarense population of the borderland in particular with women, families and youngsters.

Panel Pol02
Imagining and creating walls, utopias, and co-fragile formations