Efforts in the university that fly under the ‘‘urban humanities’’ flag represent larger phenomena that have emerged across humanistic disciplines for the past two decades. Hybrid initiatives have appeared alongside broad interdisciplinary efforts highlighting challenges involved in attempting to transform the knowledge and practices within stable institutional configurations. Yet our experience, where “place” comes into analytic focus, has shown that urban humanities produce superior understandings of the structure/agency connection by a self-conscious, simultaneous engagement with social theory, human experience, and social action.
Michael Dear examines the history of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, from the first commission formed to map and delineate the physical border to the border fences constructed in recent decades as a response to illegal immigration and fears of terror threats. He considers this place in between two nations to be its own third country, which he calls Bajalta, where the border isn’t a division but the connective membrane of the borderlands.