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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Municipal Annexation and Metropolitan Colonialism at the Nation's Fringe: San Ysidro, San Diego and the U-S///Mexico Border


This paper reviews and challenges current Urban Studies literature on annexation, suburbanization, and segregation. Specifically, it investigates the economic and political forces that led to boundary changes in San Ysidro, California. Prior scholarship on municipal annexations has focused primarily on the procedural mechanics and local dynamics that inform municipal boundary changes. This paper argues that this approach is “too local,” and suggests that global capital flows and forces play a powerful role in municipal annexations. Through a world-systems lens and a legal history of cities, this paper also provides a framework for rethinking municipal annexations as reenactments of colonial enterprises at a metropolitan scale and considers the implications this framework has on ongoing debates about citizenship.

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