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Crossing the world's busiest border : transborder commuters, performance, culture and superación


This thesis investigates the meaning of being a border crosser in the Tijuana-San Diego region. It presents a brief history of this region and a discussion of pertinent theory. The personal narratives of transborder commuters shaped and guided the research. This thesis focuses on the narratives of six transborder commuters and one person who was raised undocumented in the San Diego-Tijuana region but has crossed borders throughout her life. This work parts from the notion that 'border performativity,' theorized by Nancy A. Wonders, plays a central role in the meaning of being a border crosser. The border is performed everyday on commuters at the border crossing. Commuters also participate in border performativity in the everyday, mundane things that they go through in attempting to cross the border. The notion of 'superación,' bettering oneself, is central to the search for freedom of mobility. This thesis also argues that in order to discuss border crossing it is necessary to discuss the differential access to crossing the border. Lastly, this thesis interrogates how people situate themselves and construct their culture in the border region. This thesis does not purport to present a full representation of transborder commuters but rather what it means to be a border crosser for the people I interviewed

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