Drawing Lines: El Pasoan Identity, Perception and Place in the Context of the Mexican Drug War.
Herman, Josephine I.
- The sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Jurez, Chihuahua constitute a transnational metropolis of over 2 million people living along the U.S.-Mexican border. Strong economic, political and social ties and the residents' navigation between two national systems and cultures characterize the cities, despite the international border between them. Since 2008, Jurez has been the site of ten- to e... read moreleven thousand murders related to clashes between drug cartels and Mexican state forces, becoming internationally infamous as Murder City. While El Paso was not the spatial site of violence, the traumas in Jurez have had profound effects on the lives of El Pasoans. Drawing from interviews with El Pasoan residents, I show that the drug war represents a critical moment in the historical trajectories of the cities. The violence constitutes a further wedge between the cities, fitting into a historical trajectory of increased social and cultural division. I argue that this fracture has led to three main social changes: a) an anxiety among Chicano El Pasoans as their ability to live their Mexican heritage becomes restricted, b) a change in migration patterns from border crossers to people who stay in one country, and c) to increased awareness of the external gaze of Texas and the United States on El Paso.read less