Representing National Identity, Borders, and Migration: Making News in Southern California

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Abstract

The US-Mexico border has become both socially and physically symbolic of conflicts about nationalism, identity, mobility and immigration policy. In this paper I explore how these conflicts have been played out in a selection of media representations focusing on the border in Southern California. The goal of this paper is to illustrate that news media representations of immigration and the US-Mexico border rely on certain notions of space, identity and nationalism which are thoroughly embedded in specific constructions of migration and race. To undertake this study I examined a selection of programs from television news media exploring the western section of the US-Mexico border and interviews with San Diego and Los Angeles-based print press journalists. In addition to creating a visual and textual cartography of the nation, news media are also key forums in which alternative stories of nationhood go untold. Given that for many people mainstream media are a key source of information, such forums of representation are significant for framing discussions about national identity and immigration policy. An analysis of media images of immigration in Southern California television news illustrates the need to explore, and problematize, binary representations of borders and nationhood that rely on essentialized concepts of ‘native’ or ‘foreign’ in order to have a more complex and nuanced understanding of identity and space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-298
Number of pages28
JournalHagar: International Social Science Review
Volume3
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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