With the railroad’s arrival in the late nineteenth century, immigrants of all colors rushed to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, transforming the region into a booming international hub of economic and human activity. Following the stream of Mexican, Chinese, and African American migration, Julian Lim presents a fresh study of the multiracial intersections of the borderlands, where diverse peoples crossed multiple boundaries in search of new economic opportunities and social relations. However, as these migrants came together in ways that blurred and confounded elite expectations of racial order, both the United States and Mexico resorted to increasingly exclusionary immigration policies in order to make the multiracial populations of the borderlands less visible within the body politic, and to remove them from the boundaries of national identity altogether.
Using a variety of English- and Spanish-language primary sources from both sides of the border, Lim reveals how a borderlands region that has traditionally been defined by Mexican-Anglo relations was in fact shaped by a diverse population that came together dynamically through work and play, in the streets and in homes, through war and marriage, and in the very act of crossing the border.
Praise for the book:
“Lim’s ability to weave an analytical narrative from an array of disparate sources in local, state, and national archives in Mexico as well as the United States makes Porous Borders a model for transnational history and the historian’s craft.” – H-Net
“With lucid prose and binational archival depth, Julian Lim illuminates a key era and location in borderlands history. Starting with the cartographic expedition of 1848, Lim traces the construction of the El Paso–Juarez area as a political and economic engine of empire and border control and the ways that its multiracial, mixed-race denizens contested this process. Full of previously untold stories, this book stands to remap our understanding of the border.” – Rachel Ida Buff
“What makes this study original is its substantive inclusion of Chinese, Black, and Mexicano histories within a single frame. Lim’s innovative treatment of this material will push immigration and race historians to consider longer chronologies and dynamics at play in the borderlands.” – Kelly Lytle Hernández
Further details are available here.