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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 11, 2019

De-border Yourself/Desfronterízate

  • Rihan Yeh EMAIL logo
From the journal New Global Studies


In 2018, amid US president Donald Trump’s ongoing calls to “build the wall” along the US-Mexico border, protestors in the Mexican border city of Tijuana took up his incendiary rhetoric and turned it against the caravans of Central Americans on their way to seek asylum in the United States. This essay explores the deeper logics of recent anti-migrant sentiment in Mexico by unpacking a promotional video that was popular there during Trump’s campaign. Though the video ostensibly controverts Trump’s call to “build the wall,” I argue, it ultimately reinforces an underlying distinction between the “we” it convokes and the undocumented labor migrant to the United States. The essay thus seeks the roots of contemporary Mexican xenophobia in older dynamics of class distinction within Mexico. Tijuana, finally, helps grasp how the border exacerbates these dynamics, and why US racism can make distinctions among Mexicans and among Latin Americans fiercer and more pernicious.


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Article note

My thanks to Revista Común, where this essay originally appeared (Yeh 2019), for permission to translate and republish it, and to Francisco Quijano in particular for inviting me to write it. Thanks too to Salvador Maldonado for the opportunity to first draft it as a panel presentation at El Colegio de Michoacán in Mexico and to Melissa Myambo for the opportunity to publish it in English, as well as for help polishing the final version. Finally, many thanks to Arturo Ortiz Struck for permission to use his photographs, which appeared with the essay in Revista Común.

Published Online: 2019-12-11
Published in Print: 2019-11-18

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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