The Centrality of the Canada-US Border for Hemispheric Studies of the Americas

Claudia Sadowski-Smith

Arizona State University


This article moves the Canada-US border from a position of latecomer to hemispheric studies toward a place of centrality for theories of boundary-making, migration, and border enforcement in the Americas. Nineteenth-century US attempts to control native mobility occurred simultaneously at both borders with Canada and Mexico, and turn-of-the twentieth century US efforts to enforce the Canadian boundary against Chinese immigrants preceded and influenced later changes at Mexico’s northern border. Since that time, developments at the two national boundaries have become more explicitly interconnected. The comparative perspective developed in this article questions the differential construction of the two boundaries in hemispheric studies and moves beyond the singular focus on contemporary Mexico-US border developments that threatens to replicate the very notion of US exceptionalism which an interest in this border geography was originally meant to challenge.

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