Weber-Clements Book Prize

Porous Borders: Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Julian Lim: Winner of the 2017 Weber-Clements Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America

To register through Eventbrite, click here or email
Monday, February 4, 2019 |  The Texana  Room - Fondren Library Center, 6404 Robert S. Hyer Lane, SMU  |  5:30 reception followed by 6:00 pm award ceremony, lecture and book signing  
Co-sponsored with SMU's DeGolyer Special Collections Library

With the railroad’s arrival in the late nineteenth century, immigrants of all colors rushed to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, transforming the region into a booming international hub of economic and human activity. Following the stream of Mexican, Chinese, and African American migration, Julian Lim presents in Porous Borders: Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (David J. Weber Series in the New Borderlands History, University of North Carolina Press, 2017) a fresh study of the multiracial intersections of the borderlands, where diverse peoples crossed multiple boundaries in search of new economic opportunities and social relations. However, as these migrants came together in ways that blurred and confounded elite expectations of racial order, both the United States and Mexico resorted to increasingly exclusionary immigration policies in order to make the multiracial populations of the borderlands less visible within the body politic, and to remove them from the boundaries of national identity altogether.  Using a variety of English- and Spanish-language primary sources from both sides of the border, Lim reveals how a borderlands region that has traditionally been defined by Mexican-Anglo relations was in fact shaped by a diverse population that came together dynamically through work and play, in the streets and in homes, through war and marriage, and in the very act of crossing the border.

Julian Lim, assistant professor of history at Arizona State University, received her Ph.D. in history from Cornell University and her J.D. from the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.

The judging committee wrote:

Porous Borders: Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands is a richly textured social history of the evolution of a multiracial borderlands community. Focusing on the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez region, Julian Lim weaves together the histories of the African Americans, Chinese, and Mexicans who migrated to the borderlands in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in pursuit of social and economic opportunity. Lim shows how these migrants confounded racial and national boundaries and, in response, how government officials developed increasingly restrictive racial regimes and immigration policies. Fluidly written and filled with engaging individual stories drawn from archives in the United States and Mexico, Porous Borders provides new detail and depth to our understanding of the border.

The $2,500 Weber-Clements Book Prize, administered by the Western History Association, honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book, including biography, on any aspect of Southwestern life, past or present. The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies is part of SMU's Dedman College and affiliated with the Department of History. It was created to promote research, publishing, teaching and public programming in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest.  

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