HIST 383

Borderlands: La Frontera: The U.S.-Mexico Border

The region referred to as the U.S.-Mexico borderlands has been the subject of wide-ranging popular and scholarly treatment, especially focusing on politics, cultural contact, economic exchange, and violence. Readings cover examples of how the geo-political boundary and socio-cultural space encompassed by the region have produced persistent debate about identity formation, the fluidity of the border, and the inability of governments to restrict the movement of peoples and goods. Through close reading of primary and secondary sources, students explore several questions throughout the semester: How are "borderlands" defined? What role do the historical shifts in political boundaries that have occurred along the U.S.-Mexico border play in defining the geographical limits of "borderlands"? What are the origins of cross-border violence, and how have official approaches to dealing with this violence changed over time? How does the historiography on borderlands contribute to an understanding of the causes of, and popular and official reactions to, the Drug Wars currently underway? This seminar provides students with a general understanding of the scholarship and theoretical foundation of U.S.-Mexican borderlands history.