The main contribution I have made to border studies consists of the Epistemological Model of Boundaries (Rodríguez, 2012a, 2014a) that I developed after comparatively analyzing Chicana/o literature and literature from northern Mexico (Rodríguez, 2013b), proposing the becoming (and representation) of the border subject (Rodríguez, 2012b, 2013a) as a border being (political ontology); crossing different geopolitical borders in different continents (Rodríguez, 2016); and actively participating in political advocacy in Mexico from 2013 to 2018 (Rodríguez, 2020a).
Based on the hypothesis of the epistemological model of boundaries, I need to differentiate between border studies and migration studies, given that the field of border studies is delimited (frontier zones). However, it may be ephemeral (frontier zones in administrative limbo, e.g., Calais, Idomeni, and Mountain Gurugú). At the same time, migration studies usually analyze the phenomenon of human mobility from different spheres (origin-destination, transit-return, internal-external).
Epistemological Model of Boundaries
The epistemological model of the boundaries applies to frontier zones, not necessarily to transit or destination communities, unless the final destination (e.g., Tijuana-San Diego) or the transit destination (e.g., Nador-Melilla) is a border city with a proper society model and public policies based on transnational, transcultural and cross-border practices, among those who live in frontier zones (even those in administrative limbo), or communities receiving migrants and refugees (Rodríguez, 2020a).
Perspectives of the epistemological model of boundaries:
- Geopolitical border delimitation.
- Categories of analysis.
- Matrix methodology.
- Border narratives.
Delimitation of geopolitical borders
The three characteristics of geopolitical border delimitation that give consistency and completeness to the epistemological model of boundaries are the following:
- Processes of annexation and occupation.
- Different language.
- Different religion.
Categories of analysis
I use the three meanings of «border» in English (border, boundary, frontier) to emphasize the epistemic proposal of my own categories that in Spanish allude not only to the noun and whose meaning differs depending on the ontological emphasis.
- Frontier Zones: the territorial space shared by two or more communities belonging to two or more countries and whose geopolitical delimitations are artificial; therefore, coexistence is established, despite security controls, based on uses and customs, whether commercial, cultural, symbolic, or historical exchange (Rodríguez, 2016).
- Frontier Zones in Administrative Limbo: places that were initially only for passing through and later became administrative limbos, given that the governments, for a specific time, ignored what was happening there(Rodríguez, 2016).
- Sociohistorical Boundary: refers to those borders that have developed over time in a specific geography and as a function of the social and political transformation of the States. In a genealogical sense, this category incorporates a geopolitical classification that does not necessarily allude to the linear, chronological study of their conformation but to critical historical moments such as colonization, wars of independence, and annexationist occupation projects (Rodríguez, 2014a).
- Subjective Boundary: refers to those borders that develop not only from the coexistence with the other but also based on the transformations experienced by the subjects at the level of political agency; for this, I consider it essential to identify linguistic borders, religious borders, political borders; some authors also refer to cultural borders, ethnic borders, or even urban versus rural borders. My main interest so far has been understanding and conceptualizing philosophical, literary, psychic, and bodily borders (Rodríguez 2012b, 2014a).
- Securitization Frontier: refers to the need to protect the territory from «barbarians,» «terrorists,» «refugees,» or «migrants without papers» through technological fortifications, fences, walls, barriers, fences, heat and movement sensors, and other material resources that inhibit the intention of being crossed. To this end, governments allocate a large percentage of public spending to militarization. This category includes those geopolitical borders (internal and external). Securitization frontier incorporates the glossary previously used for it: natural frontier, artificial frontier, scientific frontier, tension frontier, expansion frontier, pressure frontier, intelligent frontier, and military frontier (Rodríguez, 2014a, 2020b).
- Glocal Boundary (the linguistic game of global-local is intentional): Incorporates other typologies in addition to those already mentioned and encompasses economic borders, borders of (international) law, geopolitical borders, supranational borders, transnational theory, cross-border theory, and society models, in such a way that this category, in turn, allows us to analyze and juxtapose the different institutions, capacities, and phenomena that circumscribe the current (and in transition) nation-states, such as citizenship, territory, sovereignty, democracy, authority, jurisdiction, migratory phenomena, and public policies (Rodríguez, 2014a, 2020b).
- Horizontal Border: Refers to the jurisdiction of nation-states, whether binational, as is the case between Mexico and the United States, or multinational and intercontinental, as is the case between Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (especially the countries that make up the Arab League) (Rodríguez 2016, 2020b).
- Vertical Border: Traced in the collective imagination of those who cross either a country, form part of the subjective boundary and the glocal border (such as Central American migrants who only cross Mexico, a territory of 32 federal entities that is almost the same size as the western part of the European continent), or several European countries (such as Syrian refugees), some of them belonging to the Schengen area, such as Greece, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and other countries that do not have the right to free transit (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Albania and Bulgaria) (Rodríguez 2016, 2020b).
- Hospitality Boundary: Thinking and imagining a hospitable border becomes the first moment of the culmination of long research. An open-door border now calls us to implement models of society harmonized with the equally hospitable policy, which translates into social rights for migrants and refugees regarding health, education, housing, and work.
- Interregional Frontier: I developed this category of the interregional border once the current Mexican government decided in 2019 to internalize the «bottleneck» of the migratory phenomenon (in transit) in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. Prior to this, with the Southern Border Program (2014), it had already moved from northern Mexico to Tapachula, Chiapas, and Tenosoquie, Tabasco. Furthermore, it is with the arrival and crossing of the 2018-2019 migrant caravans, and based on the agreements between the United States and Mexico to prevent continental and transcontinental migrants from reaching the United States, that the Mexican government internalized migration control with the assumption of «regularizing» the situation of people in transit (Rodríguez, 2020a).
- Ecological Boundary: To account for the being-life in the frontiers and categories that deconstruct the Anthropocene and Capitalocene.
In addition to the categories developed for the epistemological model of boundaries, I also developed a matrix methodology (content planes based on meaning networks) to analyze the border phenomenon. There are two types of a matrix: thematic matrix and conceptual matrix.
The thematic matrices aim to
- Evaluate schemes of cross-cutting indicators.
- Outline an overview of the problems studied.
- Construct formal statements of practical application (propositions, strategies, goals, policies) based on the significance networks.
The conceptual matrices aim at
- Establishing content propositions based on previously elaborated analytical categories.
- Stating the theoretical diegetic points.
- Outlining the logic transformed into the theoretical horizon of possibility based on the significance networks.
In both cases (thematic and conceptual matrices), the networks of meaning constitute the transversal references represented within the cells of the matrix, which may be enunciated either by a series of concepts or by data. It does not mean that the analysis refers from the general to the particular or vice versa, nor that the networks of meaning are the definitions of the content planes. The networks of meaning, in any case, are abstract associations that each researcher determines in a cross-sectional matrix.
The challenges of creative writing for those of us who have grown up writing in the academy are many and diverse, from not citing sources to breaking away from the classic structure of an essay (R+D+C). Collective writing exercises take time, listening, dialogue, and, particularly, a working methodology (Alfaro, Rodríguez, 2023).
My motivation to undertake this creative challenge (assuming a possible failure from the beginning) consisted of moving to another type of academic writing based on fictional philosophy. A writing exercise closer to that of the French school of the twentieth century (Derrida, Nancy); a writing that does not wallow in academic rigor, but becomes writing, and writing, in turn, becomes thought and action.
In short, the epistemological model of bounderies consists of conceptual, methodological, and analytical categories Pantone; a theoretical exercise that has allowed me to corroborate the relevance of thinking of borders as spaces where ontological relations give way to new local epistemes, where the ethical and aesthetic is hardly considered by those who draft border and migration policies, not so by those who resist the inertia of globalization.
Rodríguez. R. 2020a. Migración cero. Reterritorializar la condición de refugiado en México. México: Bajo Tierra.
Rodríguez. R. 2016. Cartografía de las fronteras. Diario de campo. México. Disponible en Amazon.
Rodríguez. R. 2014a. Epistemología de la frontera. Modelos de sociedad y políticas públicas. México: Ediciones Eón / UTEP. ISBN: 978-607-8289-69-1. Disponible en Amazon.
Rodríguez. R. 2013a. Cultura e identidad en la región fronteriza México-Estados Unidos: Inmediaciones entre la comunidad mexicoamericana y la comunidad fronteriza. México: Ediciones Eón / UTEP. ISBN: 978-607-8289-37-0. Disponible en Amazon.
Rodríguez. R. 2013b. Alegoría de la frontera México-Estados Unidos: Análisis comparativo de dos literaturas colindantes. México: Ediciones Eón / UTEP. ISBN: 978-607-8289-38-7. Disponible en Amazon.
Yolanda Alfaro, Roxana rodríguez (Coords.). 2023. Venida sin paso. Narrativas fronterizas desde Nuestra América. Argentina: CLACSO.
Rodríguez. R. “Beyond Borders: Autoimmune Practices in a State of Law (an aporia).” Cooper y Tinning (eds.), Debating and Defining Borders. Philosophical and Theoretical Perspectives. New York: Routledge, volumen 1, 1ª edición, 2020b, pp. 220-233.
Rodríguez. R. “Re-imaging the concept of border”. In David Gallagher (comp..). Creoles, Diasporas and Cosmopolitianisms: The Creolization of Nations, Cultural Migrations, Global Languages and Literatures. California: Academica press, 2012a, pp. 239-254. ISBN-13: 978-1936320-23-3.
Rodríguez. R. (2012b, March 21). De-constructing the border: Maternal language interdiction (and it is literary representation) [Web log]. From: https://roxanarodriguezortiz.com/2012/03/21/de-constructing-the-border-maternal-language-interdiction-and-it-is-literary-representation/