Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparative Histories

By Kopinak, Kathryn | Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies, January 2011 | Go to article overview

Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparative Histories


Kopinak, Kathryn, Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies


Benjamin H. Johnson and Andrew R. Graybill, eds. Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparative Histories Durham: Duke University Press, 2010, x + 373 pp.

In introducing the 10 original essays in this anthology, editors Johnson and Graybill note the hesitation that historians have exhibited--in comparison to academics in other disciplines--in studying the interconnectedness of Canada, the US, and Mexico. Very often, they have tended to specialize in the history of one or another of those particular nation states rather than consider their long entangled interrelationships. This first attempt to integrate the histories of the countries located at both international US borders is thus a welcome addition to the study of larger questions in a continental context. Many of the benefits of such a comparative analysis, such as questioning normative or exceptionalist explanations, are clearly explained in the introductory first chapter, and will be useful to readers in a range of disciplines.

Part I, titled "Peoples In Between," consists of two contributions, each showing how mixed-race groups on the peripheries of all three North American nations dealt with new borders in the 19th century. Miguel Angel Gonzalez-Quiroga analyzes the history of conflict at the northeastern end of the US-Mexican border, demonstrating that even when the US and Mexico were at war and commercial exchanges were illegal, cooperative trade continued between border-oriented Mexicans, Texans, and indigenous peoples. Cross-border interdependence continued among these groups even when officially prohibited. Because they lived at the spatial periphery of their respective countries, such populations were the only suppliers for each others' needs. There was also considerable labour migration across this particular borderland, with slaves fleeing south to Mexico and hacienda servants moving north to escape debt peonage. Most of the migratory movement was from Mexico to Texas, however, due to the attraction of higher wages in the US and the needs of Texan ranch-owners for seasonal labour (e.g., sheep shearing). Texan Anglos curbed any racism or discrimination they may have felt in order to gain access to cheap Mexican labour.

Michel Hogue's chapter on the creation of a Metis borderland on the Northern Plains also shows how furs, alcohol, arms, and ammunition, moving south from Canada into the US, were traded by Metis groups to other Metis and Indians. These goods were considered contraband because the US identified the Metis as Canadian. At the same time that buffalo herds contracted and disappeared from Canada, Montana Indian agencies convinced the US army to order Metis people who had previously been allowed to settle on US reservations to leave and return to Canada, as they were considered British subjects. Thus, the Metis in Montana, perceived then as foreign aliens by the US government, were excluded from the reservations in the US. Metis who remained on US reservations were incorporated into bands as full-blooded American Indians. Unlike the US government, the Canadian government recognized the existence of the Metis as a distinct people. However, Canada would not grant them the reserves or services that Canadian Indians had a right to, thus marginalizing the Metis further.

Part II, "Environmental Control and State-Making," shows how the drawing of national borders interacted with environmental dynamics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the first of the three chapters that make up Part II, Jennifer Stelz demonstrates how the outbreak of communicable diseases in the Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest and the fear of contagion from native people and undesirable immigrants prompted the first attempts by the local populations to use this part of the border to prevent crossings by selected groups. Public health data and medical examinations were used to stereotype Indians as less healthy and thus more vulnerable to seasonal ailments than non-native and non-immigrant populations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparative Histories
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.