Tribal Capitalism and Mobile Human Geographies of San Diego

Authors: Hector Peralta*, Yale University
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Immigration/Transnationalism, Historical Geography
Keywords: American Indian casinos, political economy, mobility, sovereignty
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Chairman's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the role and influence of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians within the San Diego region. I ask: How does the tribal economic enterprise of the Viejas Casino and Resort impact the social, political and physical landscape of San Diego County? Specifically, how does Viejas, as one of the largest employers and political forces of the San Diego region, impact the mobility and settlement of migrants and refugees and the kinetic underclass? I position my research within San Diego for its prominence as the most-traversed international border port in the world and ultimately seek to contextualize how Viejas has single-handedly shaped social and physical mobility in San Diego County.

This paper examines how materialized forms of American Indian sovereignty condition the spatial politics of indigeneity, migration, and security within the San Diego-Tijuana borderlands. My analysis considers how Viejas sovereignty is materialized to situate every-day, spatial rearticulations of Native culture. Through an examination of Viejas-owned transportation, advertisements, and shopping outlets, I highlight the regimes of value, the mobile structures of feeling and the currency of ‘Indianness’ embedded within physical markers of Native sovereignty. I center the affective materiality of Native enterprise to not only show how physical markers are mobilized for the assertion of Native sovereignty but to also evince the continuity and instability that characterizes Native efforts of negotiating and subverting settler geographies for claims of sovereignty

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