FWIS 100: Border Narratives


Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.”

Gloria E. Anzaldúa

If you live in the United States, and especially if you live in Texas, you probably have a very particular understanding of “the border.” Despite bordering both Canada and Mexico, US residents generally understand “the border” to be the highly politicized boundary between the United States and Mexico. And it has historically been quite permeable, this imaginary line is now  imbued with markers of race, class,  criminality, and belonging. 

Though this is the most prevalent example in popular US discourse, our world—and the places and cultures that comprise it—is criss-crossed with borders: physical, geographical, philosophical, linguistic, and sociocultural. And just like “the border” between the US and Mexico, all borders are political, and can be politicized.In this course, we’ll explore the concept of the border, broadly construed, exploring how they create and reinforce divisions that go beyond lines on a map, and how the space of “the border” itself represents a particular kind of liminal, transitional space with politics all its own. 

Listen to our class playlist!