Bridging National Borders in North America

Transnational and Comparative Histories

Bridging National Borders in North America

American Encounters/Global Interactions

More about this series

Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: 23 photos, 1 table, 6 maps Published: April 2010

History > Latin American History, U.S. History, Native and Indigenous Studies

Despite a shared interest in using borders to explore the paradoxes of state-making and national histories, historians of the U.S.-Canada border region and those focused on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands have generally worked in isolation from one another. A timely and important addition to borderlands history, Bridging National Borders in North America initiates a conversation between scholars of the continent’s northern and southern borderlands. The historians in this collection examine borderlands events and phenomena from the mid-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth. Some consider the U.S.-Canada border, others concentrate on the U.S.-Mexico border, and still others take both regions into account.

The contributors engage topics such as how mixed-race groups living on the peripheries of national societies dealt with the creation of borders in the nineteenth century, how medical inspections and public-health knowledge came to be used to differentiate among bodies, and how practices designed to channel livestock and prevent cattle smuggling became the model for regulating the movement of narcotics and undocumented people. They explore the ways that U.S. immigration authorities mediated between the desires for unimpeded boundary-crossings for day laborers, tourists, casual visitors, and businessmen, and the restrictions imposed by measures such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the 1924 Immigration Act. Turning to the realm of culture, they analyze the history of tourist travel to Mexico from the United States and depictions of the borderlands in early-twentieth-century Hollywood movies. The concluding essay suggests that historians have obscured non-national forms of territoriality and community that preceded the creation of national borders and sometimes persisted afterwards. This collection signals new directions for continental dialogue about issues such as state-building, national expansion, territoriality, and migration.

Contributors: Dominique Brégent-Heald, Catherine Cocks, Andrea Geiger, Miguel Ángel González Quiroga, Andrew R. Graybill, Michel Hogue, Benjamin H. Johnson, S. Deborah Kang, Carolyn Podruchny, Bethel Saler, Jennifer Seltz, Rachel St. John, Lissa Wadewitz

Published in cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University.


“[T]his book is a valuable contribution to transnational history because
of its analytical focus on border-making and the responses of people to this process. . . . For Latin Americanists, the book provides many insights
into the southern borderlands of the United States while not privileging Mexico’s US border. . . .The essays reward attention through their empirical contributions to transnational history and their emphasis on complexity, rather than any large scale generalisations.” — Ian Tyrrell, Journal of Latin American Studies

“For any scholars and students of borderlands, this is an essential new volume and one that will be of great use for classes and research.” — Sterling Evans, Canadian Journal of Native Studies

“The editors do a good job of grouping the various articles together by general topics… Many of the essays included would be useful in undergraduate courses…. [T]he book has me thinking about all the ways in which I might do borderlands history, which suggests that the authors have indeed achieved their goal.” — Linda Noel, Canadian Journal of History

“The essays contained in this volume explore many aspects of borderlands and transnational study as viewed through the medium of a variety of disciplines, not just history. And each is amply documented in a way that should facilitate further scholarship. Moreover, the volume’s two editors, Johnson and Graybill . . . have co-authored an excellent overview essay called ‘Borders and their Historians in North America.’ Students new to the field as well as established scholars will find the overview essay together with the rest of the anthology to be highly informative and likely to stimulate further scholarship in this area.” — Carlos A. Schwantes, American Studies

“All of the offerings in this collection reflect skillful exposition, thoughtful analysis, and careful scholarship. Representing a broad range of topics from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, they provide a solid foundation and point of departure for further research in an area of intellectual inquiry that should become an increasingly important focus of attention of scholars in the future.” — Michael M. Smith, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“Johnson and Graybill have done an amazing job bringing the study of the U.S.-Canadian and U.S.-Mexican borderlands into one volume.” — Elliott Young, Journal of American History

“This top-quality and thought-provoking study, in the reviewer’s opinion, will become required reading in borderland courses.” — Dirk Hoerder, Canadian Historical Review

“A continental approach to transnational history, or the historians respond to NAFTA! These highly engaging original essays by emerging scholars tell new stories or re-cast old ones about the US-Mexico and US-Canada borderlands and border-making. Borderland studies of the north and the south presented in one volume facilitates cross-fertilization across previously isolated fields of inquiry, and illuminates the possibility of an integrated and comprehensive approach to the study of North America’s past beyond the familiar national histories of the three nation-states. These essays go a long way towards breaking down US-centric narratives about relationships with their political neighbors; they compel us to continue to seek out Canadian and Mexican perspectives on the fact and concept of living on and across the borders.” — Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Brown University

“These essays stand at the cutting edge of historical scholarship about the borders that are at the edges of nations. Bringing into conversation and comparison the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada boundaries, this splendid collection offers a new approach to the nation-states of North America by showing us how to think across borders and beyond nations.” — Stephen Aron, UCLA


Availability: In stock
Price: $29.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Benjamin H. Johnson is Associate Professor of History and Associate Director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of Bordertown: The Odyssey of an American Place and Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans into Americans.

Andrew R. Graybill is Associate Professor of History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is the author of Policing the Great Plains: Rangers, Mounties, and the North American Frontier, 1875–1910.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Borders and Their Historians in North America / Benjamin H. Johnson and Andrew R. Graybill 1

Part I. Peoples In Between

Conflict and Cooperation in the Making of Texas-Mexico Border Society, 1840–1880 / Miguel Ángel González Quiroga 33

Between Race and Nation: The Creation of a Métis Borderland on the Northern Plains, 1850–1900 / Michel Hogue 59

Part II. Environmental Control and State-Making

Epidemics, Indians, and Border-Making in the Nineteenth-Century Pacific Northwest / Jennifer Seltz 91

Divided Ranges: Trans-border Ranches and the Creation of National Space along the Western Mexico-U.S. Border / Rachel St. John 116

The Scales of Salmon: Diplomacy and Conservation in the Western Canada-U.S. Borderlands / Lissa Wadewitz 141

Part III. Border Enforcement and Contestation

Crossing the Line: The INS and the Federal Regulation of the Mexican Border / S. Deborah Kang 167

Caught in the Gap: The Transit Privilege and North America's Ambiguous Borders / Andrea Geiger 199

Part IV. Border Representation and National Identity

The Welcoming Voice of the Southland: American Tourism across the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1880–1940 / Catherine Cocks 225

Projecting the In-Between: Cinematic Representations of National Borders in North America, 1908–1940 / Dominique Brégent-Heald 249

Glass Curtains and Storied Landscapes: The Fur Trade, National Boundaries, and Historians / Bethel Saler and Carolyn Podruchny 275

Bibliography 303

Contributors 351

Index 353
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4699-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4688-3
Publicity material