Overview of the Southern Border Course
The southern border of the United States, stretching from California to Florida, is the longest physical divide between the First and the Third Worlds. The border is a cultural mosaic, a zone that abruptly brings together diverse experiences from the North and the South. It is also a place where one can see larger social, economic, and political processes at work on both sides of the boundary. This course will look at the southern border from both these perspectives: as a distinct landscape where North-South relations take on a specific spatial and cultural dimension; and as a broader region which has seen the emergence of many issues of national significance, such as bilingual education, immigration, ethnic politics, remittances and free trade.
While many patterns of change were established during the nineteenth century, the century has brought new dimensions of economic expansion, transforming the border region. A restructuring of regional economic and political power caused a tilting of capital, resources, and population toward the previously less-settled zones of the South and Southwest of the US and to the northern frontier of Mexico. This transformation has been accompanied by changes in immigration patterns; the contemporary shift in immigration sources from the Atlantic Rim to the Pacific Rim and the Caribbean has been dramatic. The border states have felt these changes keenly. Areas such as California, Texas, and Florida have become important centers for international trade, as well as gateways for new immigrants and refugees. Since 1950, the frontier zone between the United States and Mexico has been transformed into the most heavily populated border region in the world; by the turn of the century, some ten million people will inhabit this new urban corridor. Cities such as Miami and Los Angeles, the east and west anchors of the new immigration, have emerged as urban centers of intense diversity and sometimes conflict.
In this course we will trace the origins of the changes that have defined today's southern border. After this historical overview, we will look critically at debates on immigration reform, education, trade, and politics as well as new cultural and political identities in the border regions.
Please see course website for more information: http://southernborder.berkeley.edu/