Transfiguring Border Urban Identities in Tijuana at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

By: Lorena Mancilla Corona  

The overall image of the Mexican city of Tijuana follows a binary stereotype in which on one side the city is depicted as a northern border urban center where national and cultural boundaries vanish with those of the United States, a melting pot with an environment of instability, violence, trade, corruption, substance and human trafficking, flooded with migrants, deportees and refugees that come from all over Mexico, the US and the rest of the world. On the other hand, the city of Tijuana is also depicted as a modern liminal space where there is progress, employment, business opportunities, social mobility and diversity. This study analyzes a series of border urban identities related to the contrast between these opposing imaginaries—which have been expressed in works of literature, cinema and photography—and the way these representations serve as a foundation that is reproduced in popular culture. I examine traditional and customary models of local and migrant border identities in excerpts from essay: “Tijuana Makes me Happy” by Rafa Saavedra, poetry by Roberto Castillo Udiarte and Omar Pimienta, and fiction by Luis Humberto Chrostwaite, while I also investigate emerging models of border identities in photographic series and documentaries that portray diasporic, migrant, and deportee groups established in Tijuana such as the Haitian, Chinese, Central American, and Mexican communities. My analysis aims to trace how interactions between cultural depictions are intertwined with the production of new identities when there is a phenomenon of migration.

Multiculturalism Culture
Identity and Belonging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Lorena Mancilla Corona

PhD Student and Graduate Student Instructor, Spanish and Portuguese, UC Berkeley, United States
United States