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A Nation Divided

According to a 2007 Pew Research Center survey, the American people are almost evenly divided over the construction of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border by the Department of Homeland Security. Professor of Anthropology Miguel Díaz-Barriga and fellow anthropologist Margaret Dorsey spent last fall in South Texas, documenting the construction of the border wall and its impacts on the culture, the environment, and immigration policy.

The title of their blog “A Nation Divided” refers not only to the division within U.S. society over the border fence but also to the ways that Mexican-American residents of South Texas articulate pride in Mexican culture while also fully identifying with and belonging to the United States.

“For many residents of South Texas, the most pertinent divide is that with national policymakers who do not appear to understand border culture and the Lower Rio Grande Valley itself,” they write from their field site in Hidalgo County, where they report that local “mayors, public officials, and residents express strong opposition” to the fence. They also report that the election of Barack Obama, widely hailed among Mexican Americans in South Texas, does not necessarily mean an end to the construction: “There is much speculation in the Rio Grande Valley about what position president-elect Obama will take on the wall and the best means for influencing his administration,” they reported after the election.

You can read more of “A Nation Divided” at

—Jeffrey Lott

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