Border Rhetorics is a collection of essays that undertakes a wide-ranging examination of the US-Mexico border as it functions in the rhetorical production of civic unity in the United States.
A “border” is a powerful and versatile concept, variously invoked as the delineation of geographical territories, as a judicial marker of citizenship, and as an ideological trope for defining inclusion and exclusion. It has implications for both the empowerment and subjugation of any given populace. Both real and imagined, the border separates a zone of physical and symbolic exchange whose geographical, political, economic, and cultural interactions bear profoundly on popular understandings and experiences of citizenship and identity.
The border’s rhetorical significance is nowhere more apparent, nor its effects more concentrated, than on the frontier between the United States and Mexico. Often understood as an unruly boundary in dire need of containment from the ravages of criminals, illegal aliens, and other undesirable threats to the national body, this geopolitical locus exemplifies how normative constructions of “proper”; border relations reinforce definitions of US citizenship, which in turn can lead to anxiety, unrest, and violence centered around the struggle to define what it means to be a member of a national political community.
Bernadette Marie Calafell / Karma R. Chávez / Josue David Cisneros / D. Robert DeChaine / Anne Teresa Demo / Lisa A. Flores / Dustin Bradley Goltz / Marouf Hasian Jr. / Michelle A. Holling / Julia R. Johnson / Zach Juatus / Diane M. Keeling / John Louis Lucaites / George F. McHendry Jr. / Toby Miller / Kent A. Ono / Brian L. Ott / Kimberlee Pérez / Mary Ann Villarreal
"Like articles representing the positions of proponents of the measure, those representing opponents constructing the nation as potentially in danger as a result of undocumented immigration."
How do we learn to recognize the damning effects of good rhetorical intentions? And where will we find arguments which escape this trap that permeates the liberal social policy world? Shifting Borders uses an evaluation of the debate over California Proposition 187 to demonstrate how this quandary is best understood by close interrogation of mainstream reports and debates and by bringing to the fore voices that are often left out of mediated discussions.
It is these voices outside the mainstream, so-called "outlaw" discourses, that hold the best possibilities for real social change. To illustrate their claim, the authors present dominant and outlaw discourses around Proposition 187, from television reports, internet chat sites, and religious discourse to coverage of the Los Angeles Times. Their critique ably demonstrates how difficult it is to maintain a position outside the mainstream, but also how important it is for the press, citizens and scholars to actively search out such voices. The findings are organized through a model that provides an innovative method for understanding events and arguments through their rhetorical and communicative construction. In a world where the mediated word defines so much of what we know, Shifting Borders provides a lucid introduction to analyzing the spoken and written word that constitutes political debate in contemporary U.S. culture. In doing so, it makes an important contribution to any future development of progressive political strategy.