Entre Lineas | Between Lines: Mobility, Temporality, and Performance at a Mexico-U.S. Border Checkpoint Open Access

Vizcarra, Mael (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/bz60cx09v?locale=en


This dissertation rethinks the notion of border by exploring how mobility, temporality and performance happen in the border checkpoint of 'la Línea' in Tijuana, Mexico. Using a phenomenological filmic approach, I examine the contrasting movements, temporal rhythms, and performances of two groups: 1) vendors, whose free movements around the border emphasize spatial preoccupations, and 2) border crossers, whose limited mobility highlights the importance of time. For border crossers, the checkpoint represents a liminal space of waiting as they stand in long lines to cross the border. For vendors, the site is a destination where many have worked for generations. While crossers are mobile in the sense of their daily movement across borders, they remain relatively immobile in this site as they wait in line. Vendors do not generally cross the border and are perceived to be permanent fixtures, yet they are hyper mobile when compared to crossers, spending much of their time walking around. Examining border crossers' and vendors' contrasting experiences of movement and time in the space of the Línea reveals important information about the nature of borders, and prompts us to question our understanding of the relationship between privilege and mobility. La Línea can also be understood as a theatrical space for spectacle, everyday ritual, and various other performances. The large mass of people engaged in daily commuting represent a spectacular display in itself. The site is both visually imposing and provides a large captive audience of viewers, which has led to the site's use as a performance stage by local artists. Moreover, the line between performer and audience here is blurred as vendors, crossers, and CBP agents simultaneously perform for, observe, and surveil one another. Like movement and time, these different performance elements become 'mixed up' in this site, creating various lines beyond the geopolitical border. I propose the concept of revolver (to mix, to stir) to think through the shifting dynamics of mobility, temporality, and performance taking place between these lines.

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

Chapter 2 | Setting the Scene 89

Chapter 3 | Todo lo que uno hace (video) 122

Chapter 4 | Walking: Vendors, Mobility, and the Space of the Border 123

Chapter 5 | Crossing with Evelyn (video) 161

Chapter 6 | Waiting: Crossers, Temporality, and the Rhythms of the Border 162

Chapter 7 | Performing: Visuality, Spectacle, Ritual and la Línea as Theater 222

Conclusion 282

References 290


Appendix A | A Song by Damian Fry 313

Appendix B | Lul ú 's Story 314

Appendix C | Evelyn's Story 316

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