Contesting/Negotiating Power and Domination on the US -- Mexico Border: Mexican and Central American Migrants in El Paso

Bhimji, Fazila orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7234-852X (2009) Contesting/Negotiating Power and Domination on the US -- Mexico Border: Mexican and Central American Migrants in El Paso. Cultural Dynamics, 21 (2). pp. 107-132. ISSN 0921-3740

[thumbnail of Author's post-print] PDF (Author's post-print) - Other
Restricted to Registered users only


Official URL:


The article examines the ways in which twenty Mexican and five Central Americans male undocumented migrants construct the border in varying ways while they speak of their work conditions and their encounters and perceptions of the border patrol agents on the Texas/Mexico border area. Many of them who work as construction workers are economically exploited since they are paid below standard minimum wages. The temporary migrant workers display knowledge of their rights and entitlements through discursive practices such as evaluations, knowledge of their exploitative conditions, and resolutions to move further into the US or to find alternative means of income. In doing so, the migrants construct the border in many instances as a transitional space which is rather exploitative. More significantly, the undocumented migrants tend to differ in the ways in which they experience the border. Despite the militarization and exploitative work conditions for some undocumented migrants the border is perceived as relatively fluid. While for other immigrant groups such as Central Americans, migrants with past criminal records, and younger demonized males the border is more enclosed where they have to contend with power structures on a different level. There has been much focus on the border and border narratives across various disciplines but little attention has been given to the ways in which undocumented migrants experience the border during their temporary stay in order to transition to further points in the US such as Dallas, Los Angeles, and Denver. Data are based on participant observation, informal conversations, and recorded interviews of 25 male undocumented migrants residing at a temporary shelter in El Paso, Texas, over two summer periods in the years 2006 and 2007.

Repository Staff Only: item control page