Border

The border is the central fact of much of what happens in southern Arizona.  The presence of the national park changes the way the border is managed and the border changes the way the park is managed.

In these essays, we understand the border to be imaginary.  Stand in the desert a few miles west of Lukeville, Arizona, before there was a vehicle barrier there, and nothing on the land would suggest the existence of a boundary.  To make the borders real, to give them power, nation-states must manifest them physically–by building walls, flying helicopters, and operating customs houses.  This is called “territorialization.” 

But at the same time, various forces do not reconize its reality, or they profit by exploiting the opportunities that come from crossing it.  In doing so, they erode the border’s power to divide.  Some of these forces have a will–migrants cross for employment, companies invest capital, humanitarian groups aid desperate people.  Others have no will, but they challenge the existence of the border just the same–animals roam, polluted groundwater seeps, air pollutants disperse, and flood waters literally crash against the fences.  We call the collective effect of these forces challenging the border “entropy.”

In the essays in this section, read about the never-ending ebb and flow of the forces that seek to construct and reinforce the border and those that wear it away.

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