I am wary of historical interpretations that wrap things up into too neat of a package. The modern world is not simple and I am unconvinced by scholarship that tries to present historical events as simple. Like the present, history is messy. And – that’s why I love it.
Thus, I am always keeping my eye open for historical events, persons and case studies or contemporary happenings and news items that complicate overly-simplified narratives. I like finding things that go against the grain and force scholars to pause and reconsider their assumptions about a topic. My current book project, for instance, takes the familiar narrative of indigenous peoples crossing borders out of the United States and into Mexico and Canada, turns it around and compares two groups of Native peoples who crossed in the opposite direction – into the United States. Engaging in these kinds of counterintuitive projects may not change our broader conclusions, but they will be better informed by possible counter-narratives and complicating factors.
In that spirit, I am starting what will hopefully be a series of posts aimed at shaking up assumptions we have about the U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Canadian Borders (or others – this is a “big tent” sort of blog!). So please join in. When you find items that seems to violate your understanding of “the border” post to challenge an assumption you or others hold about historical and contemporary borders, post and comment. I hope this will accomplish 2 things: First, provide a forum for us to unpack and interrogate assumptions about borders, borderlands history and the like; and Second, suggest new ways of approaching scholarship.
If there exists a set of ideas about what “The Border” is, let break them. And, if you’ve never had the chance to violate the territorial integrity of a nation-state by violating its borders, this may be as close as you get.
So get to it! Violate “The Border”! (figuratively speaking, of course)
Post 1 on its way…