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Plaza at the Border: Reflecting on (Cross) Border Shopping at San Ysidro, San Diego.

Authors: Marik Shtern*, UCSD
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Border regions, Neoliberalism, Ethnonationalism, San-Diego
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The recent global tide of populist ethnonationalism is one of the most important geopolitical transformation in this century. Following discussions in political-geographic literature regarding the roots and consequences of this change, as a reaction to neoliberal globalization and blurring border regimes this paper aims to contribute to the debate by examining the everyday urban geopolitics of San Ysidro, San-Diego border crossing area. In recent years the US government has employed aggressive policies along the Mexican border, including separation, detention, and deportation of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and children. Yet the everyday geographies of the southern border regions are also composed of linear and vertical practices and regimes, including consumption, tourism, commerce and industry, that together produce a heterogeneous and hybrid border environment. The paper is based on urban ethnographic study of the retail outlet compound of – “Las Americas Premium Outlets” in San Ysidro, a popular destination for cross-border shopping, and its configuration amidst the adjacent border port spatial typologies. Discussing urban micro geopolitics of San Diego/Tijuana border region, serves as a platform to reflect on the growing contemporary friction between late 20th century dominance of globalization and neoliberal governance and recent political backlash and “retreat” to nationalism and nativism.

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