Two Publics in a Mexican Border City: Supplemental Material

This post builds on the research article “Two Publics in a Mexican Border City,” which was published in the November 2012 issue of the Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Cultural Anthropology.

Additional Readings

Cody, Francis. 2011. "Publics and Politics." Annual Review of Anthropology. 40: 37-52.

Fraser, Nancy. 1992. Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. In Habermas and the Public Sphere. Craig Calhoun, ed. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Gal, Susan, and Kathryn Woolard. 2001. Constructing Languages and Publics: Authority and Representation. In Languages and Publics: The Making of Authority. Gal and Woolard, eds. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Lomnitz, Claudio. 2001. Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of Nationalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Silverstein, Michael. 2000. Whorfianism and the Linguistic Imagination of Nationality. In Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities. Paul Kroskrity, ed. Santa Fe, N.M.: School of American Research Press.

Questions for Classroom Discussion

1) What are the "two publics" that Yeh describes in her article? How do they differ in terms of the collectivities that they articulate and their modes of articulation?

2) In what ways do the "bourgeois-type public" and the "hearsay public" reflect the tensions caused by the international US-Mexican border?

3) How do various forms of local, national, and international collectivities get constituted through the voicings of the two publics? (i.e. citizenship, nationality, migratory status, class, race)

4) What type of ethnographic and linguistic data does Yeh use to construct her argument about the existence of the "two publics"? What are the key linguistic markers that she analyzes?

5) What is the relationship between individual actors and collectivities that Yeh theorizes in each of these publics? Where does she find evidence of this?

6) What role does media, everyday talk, and government practice play in the discursive creation of collectivities?

Relevant Links

The following links are meant to provide a thicker sense of some of the larger institutional configurations shaping Tijuana's split public sphere.

* The main Point of Entry connecting Tijuana to the U.S.--likely the most traversed Port in the world--is currently undergoing a major rebuilding.

San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Project Overview

* The "turnkey industry" facilitates production for companies looking to relocate to Mexico. Their advertisements show a city entirely geared to the needs of offshore industry:

El Florido: A Master Planned Community

* The following two websites have become flashpoints for the "civil society" movement in response to organized crime and Mexico's "War on Drug-Trafficking"

Blog del Narco

Nuestra Aparente Rendición


In the foreground, the 1990s fence, cut open, patched, cut open,patched again. Beyond it, the new double-layered fence, part of the2006 initiative to seal the border.

Rihan Yeh, "Border Fence." October 22, 2012.

A working-class neighborhood, with a dirt road leading to the assembly-plants in the distance.

Rihan Yeh, "Valley View." October 22, 2012.

Marchers in one of the first demonstrations, held in 2006, in what hasbecome a movement of national scope against insecurity.

Rihan Yeh, "Marchers." October 22, 2012.

“Welcome to Tijuana,” the sign reads, “‘The Voice of the People’ Market.”

Rihan Yeh, "Welcome Sign." October 22, 2012.