Life at the Border: The Complex Communities of Yesterday and Today by Kate Berry
After reading Kelly Lytle Hernandez's Migra! A History of the US Border Patrol, I decided I wanted the sites in my digital review to help me evaluate what life was like for those living in communities along the US-Mexico border in the 20th century, and what changes to or perpetuations of those conditions exist today.
My interest in the complexity of border communities in the 20th century was piqued by the many personal stories and micro-histories Lytle Hernandez related in her examination of the development of Border Patrol, and her description of how its formation affected life at the border. I was especially interested in her discussion of how immigrants themselves affected border communities; both how immigrants used community cooperation to cross the border time and again (depending on the support of those around them, a familiar landscape, and maybe even the help of a familiar, trusted coyote, to get successfully north of the border), and also how immigration irritated the daily lives of those in the border region (for those south of the border these frustrations consisted of: constant shiploads of deportations interrupting their lives, and for those in the north: job competition, border control intervention on farms, etc).
Jumping off of this, I wanted to know what the atmosphere of these communities was like internally, and also how communities with different interests interacted with one another. What jobs did people do? What were the housing and environmental conditions? What were the ethnic and socio-economic makeups of these communities? Who fought with who? Who cooperated with who?
In this review, I assessed Yale's image based site Photogrammar, the book Continental Crossroads, edited by Samuel Truett and Elliot Young, and an online promotional page for the exhibit Zone of Contention: The US-Mexico Border at the Weatherspoon Museum in North Carolina. I chose these sites for their variety of media as well as their temporal span. I'll give a description of the content and set up of each site, and then analyze their effectiveness with regards to their own goals, as well as in what ways they help me with my topic questions.
Overall, these sites helped me develop a better visual of conditions at the border in the early 1900s, opened my eyes further to the deep complexity of border lives and the tendency of historians to oversimplify this region, and showed me a bit of the attitude towards the debate over the border today, as well as gave me a peek into how these contemporary issues affect further removed regions of the US.
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