Randall McGuire (Binghamton) in conversation with Zoë Crossland (Columbia)
For most of the 20th century, the border cities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora formed the single transnational community of Ambos Nogales (Both Nogales). Today the people in Ambos Nogales nostalgically remember this border as a picket fence between neighbors. In the mid-1990s, the United States tore down the picket fence and erected a steel wall to enclose the border and prevent undocumented migration and drug smuggling. In 2011, they erected a new and improved steel wall. The rematerialization of the US–Mexican border through Ambos Nogales emerges dialectically from fortification and transgression. The wall is the most visible instrument of the United States’ militarization of the border, but the wall does not secure the border. The United States built the wall to limit the agency of crossers. The wall, however, enables agency that the builders did not imagine or desire, and crossers continually create new ways to transgress the barrier countering the interests of the nation states. This in turn leads the nation state to rematerialize the border to counter this transgression.