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Crossing Borders
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Along the U.S.-Mexico frontier, where border crossings are a daily occurrence for many people, reinforcing borders is also a common activity. Not only does the U.S. Border Patrol strive to 'hold the line' against illegal immigrants, but many residents on both sides of the border seek to define and bound themselves apart from groups they perceive as 'others'. This pathfinding ethnography charts the social categories, metaphors, and narrative stories that inhabitants of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez use to define their group identity and distinguish themselves from 'others'. Pablo Vila draws on over 200 group interviews with more than 900 area residents to describe how Mexican nationals, Mexican immigrants, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Anglos make sense of themselves and perceive their differences from others. This research uncovers the regionalism by which many northern Mexicans construct their sense of identity, the nationalism that often divides Mexican Americans from Mexican nationals, and the role of ethnicity in setting boundaries among Anglos, Mexicans, and African Americans. Vila also looks at how gender, age, religion, and class intertwine with these factors. He concludes with fascinating excerpts from re-interviews with several informants, who modified their views of other groups when confronted by the author with the narrative character of their identities. Pablo Vila is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He conducted this study from 1991 to 1997, while teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso.
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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter 1. The Mexican Side: Discourses of Region Chapter 2. The Mexican Side: Discourses of Nation Chapter 3. The Emplotment of the Mexican on the U.S. Side of the Border Chapter 4. Mexican Immigrants and the "All Poverty Is Mexican" Narrative Plot Chapter 5. Operation Blockade, or When Private Narratives Went Public Chapter 6. Dialogical Social Science and the Possibility of Narrating Better Stories Appendix. Categories, Interpellations, Metaphors, and Narratives: A Brief Theoretical Discussion Notes Bibliography Index

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This pathfinding ethnography charts the social categories, metaphors, and narrative stories that inhabitants of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez use to define their group identity and distinguish themselves from "others."

About the Author

PABLO VILA is Professor of Sociology at Temple University in Philadelphia.

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