Borders, Classrooms, and Global Connections: The Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies, Issue Number 8, Spring 2014
I am delighted to introduce The Middle Ground Journal’s eighth issue, Spring 2014. The Middle Ground has published uninterrupted for four years since its establishment. The Middle Ground Journal has pioneered the format of weekly publication, adopting a hybrid between that of a traditional academic journal, while utilizing the form of a web-journal. The special forum of articles, case studies, and reviews on borderlands studies outlined below represents the journal’s continued commitment to develop special, thematic forums of interest to the world history and global studies communities. My special thanks to our guest editor, Professor Benita Heiskanen, and The Middle Ground’s Contributing Editor, Professor Andrae M. Marak, for developing and editing this special forum. A great deal of thanks, too, to our Assistant Editor Jeanne E. Grant for lending her expertise towards the final editing process of this forum. It is with this special forum that we begin our Spring 2014 issue.
The Middle Ground Journal has continued to innovate and develop as an open-access, scholarly teaching journal. I was honored to have been invited to present the experience of The Middle Ground during the 2014 American Historical Association annual conference in Washington, DC. The journal continues to receive excellent support from our host, The College of St. Scholastica, as well as The Midwest World History Association, and The World History Association. We will continue to develop research articles, essays on teaching, and reviews of books and other artifacts. Finally, our North Star Project – collaboration between the journal, our graduate and undergraduate student interns, and K-12 classes has continued to flourish and to expand. We have had student writers reporting in from such locales as Mongolia, Venezuela, Micronesia, Japan, Tanzania, Northern Ireland, Peru, The Philippines, India, Finland, Ecuador, Ghana, Russia, and China. I invite you to follow the progress of these projects on these pages, and to propose collaborative projects with The Middle Ground by contacting me directly. My profound gratitude to the dedication and hard work all of our editors, our students, and to our many generous supporters.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D.,
Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal
Assistant Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica
Links to The Border in the Classrooms special forum articles:
O'Connor, Narco-Trauma: The Phenomenology of the Mexican Drug War among Binational Students at the Border
Castañeda, The Socially Polysemantic Border: Positionality and the Meaning of the Fence
On Teaching/Case Studies
Franco, Crossing Pedagogical Boundaries: United States-Mexico Border Simulation Game
Knowles, Teaching Physical and Conceptual Borders: A Case Study
Manzano Munguia, From the Bottom-Up: Grassroots Approach to Border Studies in the Classroom
Van Valen, Border Life as Seen Through Rural Schools in Southern Arizona
Bowman, Teaching Borderlands History to Undergraduates: Some Reflections From a First-Year Faculty Member
Shepherd, Major Problems in the History of North American Borderlands.
Ramirez, Breaking the Taboo, a film produced by Sam Branson, Sundog Pictures, 2011, and Narcotráfico para Inocentes: el Narco en México y Quien lo U.S.A.
Heiskanen, Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexican Drug War by the Fugitive Reporters of Blog del Narco
Introduction -- Special Issue: Forum on “The Border in the Classroom: Approaches to Border Studies”
Organized and Edited by Benita Heiskanen and Andrae Marak
This Special Issue of the Forum, “The Border in the Classroom: Approaches to Border Studies,” focusing on the border between Mexico and the United States grew out of a 2012 American Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting “Dimensions of Empire and Resistance: Past, Present, and Future,” in San Juan, Puerto Rico; our session was entitled “The Narco-Empire: Violence and Resistance in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region.” At the ASA, we moved beyond thinking about border violence as a national security issue to one of transnational human rights. We asked questions such as: “How do residents, academics, activists, and artists experience, conceptualize, resist, and commemorate events in the region?” “How do the perspectives contribute to understanding the everyday lives and the personal mobility or immobility?” “How do everyday experiences and cultural representations of violence tie into the transnational border region?” “How does border violence elucidate the notion of empire within the hemispheric context of the Americas as well as on a global scale?” The panel was a success and led to continued dialogue about physical, geographic, and conceptual borders.
These conversations resulted in the launching of the forum, “The Border in the Classroom: Approaches to Border Studies,” and this special issue. We wanted the first issue of the forum to explore the multiple meanings of the U.S.-Mexico border within the classroom context. In our call, we invited articles with a focus on either the undergraduate or graduate classroom setting, from various geographic viewpoints. In an effort to take into account the multiple levels at which border discourses resonate, we invited three types of contributions for consideration: research articles, case studies, and reviews. We did not want to make any disciplinary distinctions between the particular contributions; on the contrary, the point was to take into account both historical perspectives and contemporary issues, and we particularly encouraged interdisciplinary and multi-methodological approaches. We were delighted with the enthusiasm with which scholars responded to our call. After a blind peer review process, we selected two research articles, five case studies, and three reviews for this inaugural issue. Our inclusion of articles from diverse scholarly and geographic viewpoints hope to address the broad significance that U.S.-Mexico border issues have from a number of inter/disciplinary perspectives, geographic viewpoints, and educational contexts.
Kathleen O’Connor and Ernesto Castañeda’s research articles deal with undergraduate students’ responses to living in the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border region; O’Connor’s work deals with students’ traumatic experiences in the context of drug violence, while Castañeda’s article explores students’ conceptualization of the border through a sociological fieldwork assignment. Bridget V. Franco’s case study discusses the development and implementation of a U.S.-Mexico Border simulation game in an Introduction to Latin American and Latino Studies undergraduate course; Kimberly Knowles-Yanez considers physical and conceptual borders in an introductory junior level general education interdisciplinary social science class; and María Cristina Manzano Munguía discusses different classroom methodologies for graduate and undergraduate seminars that aid in the understandings of the borders between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Gary Van Valen and Tim Bowman’s case studies consider border studies from a historical perspective; Van Valen’s discusses the Coyote School News, a fictional story, and Little Cowpuncher, a real school newspaper as examples of sources for K-12 education about life on the U.S.-Mexican border in the 1930s, and Bowman offers reflections from a first-year faculty member about teaching borderlands history as an advanced undergraduate course in Texas. Finally, the issue includes reviews by Jeffery P. Shepherd, Antonio Ramirez, and Benita Heiskanen.
In the future, we hope that this forum will continue to facilitate inter/disciplinary dialogue about not just the U.S.-Mexico border but borders and borderlands more generally. For research articles and case studies: please send max. 300-word abstracts, together with one-page CVs, to both editors. For suggestions on book reviews on recent border scholarship, please send max. 150-word abstracts, together with one-page CVs, to both editors. Please email all contributions of the forum to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
(c) 2014 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 8, Spring, 2014. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy.