Imaginaries and Migration

By Mendez, Eloy; Rodriguez, Isabel | Journal of the Southwest, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Imaginaries and Migration


Mendez, Eloy, Rodriguez, Isabel, Journal of the Southwest


Mexico's northern border cities are urban agglomerations constructed by successive waves of migration during the course of the twentieth century, growth that continues apace in the twenty-first. Their terrains reflect the pulsing histories of rapid urbanization resulting from recent cycles of growth. What follows are excerpts drawn from interviews we conducted with U.S.-Mexico border residents for a project designed to investigate how people see themselves in terms of this dynamic built environment. It includes our own interpretations of and reflections on images of border cities as well. Our purpose here is to decipher some of the codes that arise in local imaginaries, the particular qualities that locals aspire to as they inhabit this borderlands space. (1) The desires and yearnings registered in these interviews are also accompanied by explicit or implicit dislike. They are fragmentary assertions: contradictory visions and capricious or conventional perspectives that challenge rigid normative criteria. But they are also the substrate of a quotidian reality that is constantly being reconstructed.

Researching this reality requires studying the imaginaries that underlie people's practices, because these imaginaries reveal values, fears, suspicions, and ideals. Such practices are, furthermore, rendered concrete in material expressions of the city's dynamics. For this study, we use as common threads the notions of memory city, encounter city, and fictitious city proposed by Marc Auge in El viaje imposible (1998). These common threads are, within the study of Mexico's northern border cities, a counterpoint to people's own ideas of territorial construction: the transitory city, the passing-through city, and the defensive-city, constructions that relate to the spatial ambits of home, neighborhood, and the entire urban area. The latter become directly interwoven into people's narratives of place, which were elicited in semi-structured interviews with residents.

Auge's point of departure is to study city form in conjunction with its imaginary form, to substantiate people's need for a social utopia alongside the urban imaginary and the city. The city and its imaginaries are thus interdependent. Auge draws from literature, poetry, and, above all, novels that bring together dreams and expectations. With these source materials, he seeks to unmask and liberate the imaginary from the fiction and artifice that reinforce discourses and practices that tend to asphyxiate the city.

MEMORY CITY/TRANSITORY CITY

For Auge the memory city is immediately anchored in the testimony of architecture and landmarks that reflect concrete expressions of different moments lived by the local society. It is also the urban fabric of many different paths taken; individual and collective memories remain in relation to people's everyday trajectories. These paths are reflected in the particular places people inhabit and their life experiences, and they ultimately become part of collective memory. Glimmers of modernity's ideals, however, emerge in reference to the singular occurrences of distant and ancient European cities, ideals that have left their stamp upon the buildings of the past.

The historic language of construction in the border region makes explicit these connections and signs of durability that have, over time, given permanency to the territory. The language is rather commonplace, and one way to read these permanencies is through the vocabulary of territorial composition common to engineers: "it is precisely this self-evident verification that requires and justifies the different scales of analysis of disciplinary fields and regions of the respective sciences that investigate reality and that connect particular ones within others, like Russian dolls, moving through ... different levels, in increasing order, [from] architecture (the home), to urbanism (the city), geography (the region), to ecology (the environment), and economy (globality)" (Garcia-Bellido, 2002: 279). …

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

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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Imaginaries and Migration
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.