Author Archives: J. Aaron Waggoner

About J. Aaron Waggoner

He is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Special Publication–Global Border Studies (IJCEAS)

Stemming from the 2014 Berlin Border Seminar, the Comparative Research Network has published the first of a two-part special edition of the International Journal of Contemporary Economics and Administrative Sciences,“Implications of Borders on Culture and Economics.” The publication features a wide range of interdisciplinary border studies projects, including one of my own, “Spirit, Transformation, and Gender in Borderlands: A Representative Case Study.”  It’s free to access, so check it out here.

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The cover features the Oder River near the campus of the European University Viadrina, separating Frankfurt (Oder), Germany and Slubice, Poland.

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Call for Papers: UTEP Borderlands History Conference 2017


The UTEP History Department is excited to announce The Annual University of Texas at El Paso Borderlands History Conference, February 10-11, 2017 here in El Paso.  This year’s theme is Shifting Borders: Gender, Family, and Community, and UTEP will welcome keynote speaker Sonia Hernández (Texas A&M).   Paper and panel proposals are accepted until September 23, 2016.

CONVOCATORIA EXTENDIDA hasta el 23 de septiembre!

El Departamento de Historia de la Universidad de Texas, El Paso anuncia la Conferencia Anual de Historia Fronteriza de UTEP, 10-11 de febrero de 2017 en El Paso, Texas. El tema es “Fronteras movedizas: género, familia y comunidad” y le darán la bienvenida a la presentadora principal, Sonia Hernández (Texas A&M).  Se aceptan ponencias (individuales o de mesas) hasta el 23 de septiembre de 2016.

Call for Papers (ENGLISH)

Convocatoria de Ponencias (ESPAÑOL)

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6th Annual UTEP Women’s History Month Conference

The sixth annual University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Women’s History Month Conference, “Intersectionality on the Border,” highlighted gender and sexuality in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Held on the UTEP campus Wednesday and Thursday, April 6-7, the event included over fifty panels, roundtables, and presentations featuring undergraduate and graduate students, community activists, and scholars of all ranks. Among these, a panel “Gender, Sexuality, and Violence in the Borderlands,” featured borderlands historians Daniel Santana, Carolina Monsivais, and Jennifer Urban-Flores. Other panels discussed Trans issues on the border, the intersection of gender and religion in El Paso, and borderland health disparities. On Wednesday afternoon, the conference offered a ceremony recognizing renowned UTEP border studies scholar Dr. Kathleen Staudt. In her “legacy lecture” Staudt reflected on her more than three decades of scholarship and service in the frontera. On Thursday, a keynote address by University of California, Santa Cruz Latin American and Latino Studies professor Dr. Patricia Zavella described the Nuestro Texas Project, a Latina health initiative aimed at improving reproductive services in Rio Grande Valley.

The UTEP Women’s History Month conference is an annual event co-sponsored by the university’s Women’s and Gender Studies program and the Triota honor society. More information is available by calling (915) 747-6132.

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Queer History, Spaces, and Rights on the Border

Filodiversidad (1)Friday, October 23rd the Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Cd. Juárez Campus (COLEF), hosted the “Jornada sobre diversidades sexo-genéricas: Filodiversdad.”  The event featured a press conference promoting the Cartilla LGBTTTI, a Mexican federal legal tool designed to articulate the rights of queer people and victims of sexual violence. Following the press conference, the COLEF presented an academic panel, “Diversidad sexual y derechos humanos”; a presentation of the newly published Queer Geographies; a live performance of Juarez artist, Ramón Padilla; and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the COLEF installation of the Engendering Community Project.  The jornada serves as an excellent example of the intersection of public history, interdisciplinarity, and activism in a borderlands context.

The headliner of the event, Ana Suárez from the Comisión Ejecutiva de Atención a Víctimas, joined Alfredo Limas of the Universidad Autónoma de Cd. Juárez and event coordinator Salvador Cruz (COLEF) for the opening panel on sexual diversity and violence.  Cruz, a social scientist interested in masculinities, youth, and violence, offered a theoretical context for the event’s discussion.  Limas, whose work focuses on gendered violence in Juárez, offered a discussion of alarmingly hateful online response to media coverage of LGBT civil rights advances.  Providing a policy-based perspective on gendered violence, Suárez described the Cartilla and its function as a legal standard.  Though she emphasized that civil rights are not negotiable, she recognized the challenges LGBTQ Mexicans face and lamented that many of them feel exercising their civil rights is a far-fetched dream.


Joining the event to promote Queer Geographies were project coordinator Lasse Lau and contributor Felipe Zúñiga-González.  Blending provocative short essays and striking photography the self-published work explores queerness, activism, and visual arts in Beirut, Tijuana, and Copenhagen.  A must-read for folks interested in queer theory, space, and sexuality, this gritty work even takes the reader cruising for sex in the bushes of a Copenhagen park and in the online chat rooms of Tijuana.  The book’s most innovative feature, “A Hands Routine,” comes in form of a folding map.  Describing a different type of clandestine rendezvous, the timeline of in-car hand holding documents Lebanese artist Omar Mismar’s everyday decisions to hide or come out.

11063580_10153179791150823_8132968282906796884_nLike Queer Geographies, the Engendering Community Project aims to celebrate the experiences of queer people in marginalized spaces, notably the border community of El Paso-Juárez.  Started over five years ago as an oral history project by the former director of women’s studies at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Brenda Risch, Engendering Community evolved into a hugely successful public history exhibit which ran from June through September at UTEP’s Centennial Museum.  Explaining the project’s trajectory and the feminist/ethical impulse to have the project available for participants and the public on both sides of the border, J. Aaron Waggoner (this author) inaugurated the COLEF opening.  Though the exhibit will be only be available at its current location through early December, it will provide a space for ongoing conversations and organizing.

J. Aaron Waggoner is a Doctoral Candidate in History at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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Reflections: RMCLAS 2015

The annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies (RMCLAS) brought scholars to Tucson, Arizona for four days of insightful conversation, networking, and professional development. This year’s conference, held April 8-11 at the Marriot on the campus of the University of Arizona, was especially beneficial for students of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

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B/orders: Berlin, Borders, and the Disparate Value of Life

Recently, 25 years after Gorbachev, Reagan, John Paul II, Harald Jaeger, or, alternatively, David Hasselhoff, brought down the Berlin Wall, Germans flocked to the capital and the East Side Gallery to mark the occasion. Many news outlets and blogs have discussed the festivities, culminating with the symbolic release of glowing balloons shortly after midnight on Monday morning of November 10th, but few have acknowledged the paradoxes and inequalities that persist.  While attending the Berlin Border Seminar, organized by Martin Barthel (Comparative Research Network), I witnessed some of the ways these dissonances seep through narratives of progress, pan-Europeanism, and tourist-friendly order. I also had the pleasure to hear about border-related research happening in Europe, including James W. Scott‘s thoughts on the dynamic, ongoing process of bordering and re-bordering in urban spaces in cities such as Berlin.  (Here are links to the conference schedule: Berlin Border Seminar Booklet 41114  and BBS Errata.)

As I made my way to the Armony hotel on the morning of Saturday, the 8th of November, I walked along the former line of the western wall (it was actually a strip, not a single wall).  While it would have been a lofty task to damage all or most of the thousands of balloons, its clear that a significant number had been destroyed.  Some of the thin, black posts were knocked over or bent, and other balloons were simply popped, leaving their stands holding limp blobs off lifeless latex.  More importantly, some of the remaining balloons had been repurposed to display radical messages. (See photos below.)  One, for instance, had two boxes, beside “Berlin wall” and “European Wall,” with the first selected with an approving “X.”  Tellingly, most of the balloons had been repaired or replaced by the following morning. Continue reading

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B/orders: Interview with Ms. Petra Weber

This interview was conducted on November 3, 2014 in the International Office of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, on the border with Slubice, Poland. In this interview, Ms. Weber discusses the role of the International Office in Viadrina’s internationalization. She also provides insight into the recent history of the community, the ERASMUS program, practical aspects of European de-bordering and university administration, and the evolving mission of the Viadrina. This interview has been edited for readability.

J. Aaron Waggoner: Ms. Petra Weber, could you please start by telling me a little bit about your department?

Petra Weber: I think the setup of the International Office of the Viadrina is a bit unusual, because it has areas which are not commonly placed within international offices in Germany. Our standard, our call word, is really the exchange programs. We also have responsibilities like international offices in the states do, for example, for recruitment of international students, but also advising and taking care of incoming degree-seeking students. We are also working in the area of recognition of credentials for two faculties of the Viadrina, Business Administration and Cultural Sciences. Then we have a number of projects, which could be partly research, but sometimes are also structural projects. For example, we are dealing with projects towards double degree programs with the faculties where sometimes we can negotiate the whole project on our own. Basically, for the Business faculty we have that responsibility, which is quite unusual, but we do the same thing for all faculties in terms of the advising for the logistics and sometimes also about the setup of the programs… We have at the moment, I think, nineteen double degrees in place, which is a very high number, also in comparison to some other larger universities in Germany. We have a benchmarking with some of the really big institutions, for example Dresden and Vienna. And Vienna has not nearly the number of double degrees we have.

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B/orders: Interview with Dr. Andrea Meissner

The following interview was conducted on Thursday, October 23 in the offices of B/orders in Motion at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt(Oder). Here, I talk with Dr. Andrea Meissner about the center, its mission and activities, and a fellowship opportunity for graduating MA students or early PhD students. Blogs in progress include a description of Viadrina’s international demographic and an exploration of the echoes and memory of the German Democratic Republic, whose main local offices are now occupied by the university. You can listen to the interview here.

Aaron Waggoner: Hello, my name in Aaron Waggoner, and today I’m with Dr. Andrea Meissner in the offices of the Viadrina Centre B/orders in Motion at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) on the border with Słubice, Poland. Dr. Meissner, so please tell me a little about yourself and your current position.

Andrea Meissner: I am the Scientific Coordinator of the Viadrina Center B/orders in Motion which is basically its manager. And from my scientific background I’m a historian, and I’ve been dealing with, in my dissertation, with nation building in Germany and Austria, so there are a lot of cross border processes. That’s something that connects me to the issues we are dealing with here.

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B/Orders in Motion

Welcome / Bienvenidos / Willkommen / Witajcie

Hello border crossers, benders, and breakers!  I’m excited to be sharing my experience with you as the Visiting Scientist for B/Orders in Motion.  Over the next three months, I’ll be publishing comments, photos, and interviews from Frankfurt(Oder)/Slubice dealing with the European University Viadrina’s approach to border studies, the lived experience on the German/Polish border, and my work as a researcher and educator.

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