Beyond the Border

Beyond the Border: Tensions across the Forty-Ninth Parallel in the Great Plains and Prairies

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Beyond the Border
    Book Description:

    The idea that the American Great Plains and the Canadian Prairies are just "fly-over" country is a mistake. In the post-9/11 era, politicians and policy-makers are paying more attention to the region, especially where border enforcement is concerned. Beyond the Border provides interdisciplinary perspectives on the region's increasing importance. Drawing inspiration from Habermas's observation that certain modern phenomena - from ecological degradation and organized crime to increased capital mobility - challenge a state's ability to retain sovereignty over a fixed geographical region, contributors to this book question the ontological status of the Canada-US border. They look at how entertainment media represents the border for their viewers, how Canada and the US enforce the line that separates the two countries, and how the border appears from the viewpoint of Native communities where it was imposed through their traditional lands. Under this scrutiny, the border ceases to appear as self-evident, its status more fragile than otherwise imagined. At a time when the importance of border security is increasingly stressed and the Great Plains and Prairies are becoming more economically and politically prominent, Beyond the Border offers necessary context for understanding decisions by politicians and policy-makers along the forty-ninth parallel. Contributors include Phil Bellfy (Michigan State University), Christopher Cwynar (University of Wisconsin), Brandon Dimmel (Western University), Zalfa Feghali (University of Nottingham), Joshua Miner (University of Iowa), Paul Moore (Ryerson University), Michelle Morris (University of Waterloo), Paul Sando (Minnesota State University Moorhead), and Serra Tinic (University of Alberta).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8862-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Paradoxes of the Border
    (pp. 3-26)

    The Canada-US border serves a paradoxical function: it separates two countries, even as it sutures them together. As a result, weird things happen there. The border interrupts space and marks a break between one discrete place and another. We experience this each time we cross it, stop at the inspection station, and hand over our passports. The space we pass through is not continuous.

    The border also interrupts time, although the break is perhaps more abstract. To cross the border is to leave one temporal frame of reference and national timeline, replete with its own history and sense of order,...


    • 1 The Borders of Cultural Difference: Canadian Television and Cultural Identity
      (pp. 29-38)

      The saliency of the border as both a physical, cartographical point of demarcation as well as a marker of cultural similarity and difference cannot be overstated – at least on the Canadian side of the continental dividing line. The United States has always loomed large in the Canadian imagination. Sitting next to one of the world’s cultural and political superpowers has resulted in what many political sociologists refer to as a sense of negative identity, or the propensity to define yourself by what you are not. It is a particularly acute phenomenon when national neighbours of unequal power status share a...

    • 2 The Canadian Sitcom and the Fantasy of National Difference: Little Mosque on the Prairie and English-Canadian Identity
      (pp. 39-70)

      Serra Tinic’s essay in this collection provides an ideal point of entry to a discussion of the Canada-US border as an arbitrary line that divides on a cultural level, or rather, as a line that prompts active divisions on a cultural level. Tinic provides a brief recap of Canadian broadcasting history that focuses on the perceived threat of American economic and cultural imperialism resulting from a combination of geographical proximity, cultural and linguistic similarity, and the power imbalances between the mighty American and limited Canadian cultural industries. Of course, the airwaves observe no borders and the persistence of the American...

    • 3 The Flow of Amusement: The First Year of Moving Pictures in the Red River Valley
      (pp. 71-90)

      Moving pictures debuted in the Red River Valley in early July of 1896 for an audience in Pembina, North Dakota, a small town at the international boundary of the forty-ninth parallel. As Thomas Edison’s latest marvel and as a novelty of electric invention and a metropolitan entertainment, the location seems incongruous. Why not a city? Why did cinema arrive in Pembina before Fargo, Grand Forks, or Winnipeg? Pembina’s curious historic significance can be seen as an extension of its legacy as a fur-trading post, one of the earliest European outposts in the region. The town was one of Lord Selkirk’s...


    • 4 “Shutting Down the Snake Ranch”: Battling Booze at the BC Border, 1910–14
      (pp. 93-112)

      For many residents of the Pacific Northwest, the Peace Arch is the defining symbol of the Canada-US international boundary. Unveiled in 1921 to commemorate a century of peace between the two countries (1814–1914), the Peace Arch is a towering sixty-seven feet of concrete and reinforced steel. To emphasize this bold idea of a peacefully shared continent, inscriptions on the sides read “Children of a Common Mother” and “Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity,” proclamations about Americans and Canadians that, when originally unveiled, fed on and into strong feelings of Anglo-Saxon brotherhood in the period following the Allies’ victory over the...

    • 5 International and Domestic Pressures on the Governance of the St Mary and Milk Rivers
      (pp. 113-132)

      Water, the common denominator of all living things, pays no heed to political boundaries. Tensions can ignite when neighbouring jurisdictions compete for limited resources. Such is the case for the province of Alberta and the state of Montana, which share the St Mary and Milk rivers. Both rivers arise in Montanan territory, but drain separately into Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The St Mary flows north into Alberta where it eventually meets with the Oldman River and continues through Saskatchewan and Manitoba and into Hudson Bay. The Milk River, by contrast, meanders into southern Alberta before it returns...

    • 6 Water and Political Relations between the Upper Plains States and the Prairie Provinces: What Works, What Doesn’t, and What’s All Wet
      (pp. 133-150)

      The Red River basin and the attendant basins of the Souris-Assiniboine Rivers straddle the Canada-US border and create a number of issues that require substantive cooperation and relations between the affected states and provinces. In this paper, I focus on three areas of contention and cooperation: the Souris River Basin flood control project and Northwest Area Water Supply Project, the Devils Lake Drainage Project, and the Red River Basin flood control efforts. These projects deal with attempts to control water in excess, and one, the Souris basin and the NAWS project, deals with water resources that move between basins. All...


    • 7 Border Studies and Indigenous Peoples: Reconsidering Our Approach
      (pp. 153-169)

      Ambrose Bierce’s above definition of a boundary, taken from his satirical The Devil’s Dictionary, is an appropriate entry point for my discussion. Over the course of this essay I will identify some drawbacks of ignoring the relationships between border studies, hemispheric studies, and nation, particularly in reference to First Peoples in Canada and the United States. I will make a case for a broader, more comprehensive understanding of and approach to border – and by extension hemispheric – studies in North America. Most conceptions of such studies tend to focus primarily on the relationships between the United States and Latin American states,...

    • 8 Navigating the “Erotic Conversion”: Transgression and Sovereignty in Native Literatures of the Northern Plains
      (pp. 170-198)

      Like the Blackfoot characters in Thomas King’s Truth and Bright Water – like the river, too, that forms a natural boundary between its American and Canadian communities – indigenous border stories tend to ramble. They may head off in difficult directions; and may alternately crash like cataracts or flow like streams, but they orient nonetheless if their process is respected. When the young narrator, Tecumseh,¹ interrupts his aunt to declare that he would “go east,” even though he has not heard the first part of her story and does not know its setting (King 1999, 53), he betrays a poor understanding of...

    • 9 The Anishnaabeg of Bawating: Indigenous People Look at the Canada-US Border
      (pp. 199-222)

      Bawating is the Ojibwe name for the area at the mouth of Lake Superior, and can be translated as “the gathering place of the people.” That same area is a place now called Sault Ste Marie – French for “the Rapids of the St Mary’s River.” These “Twin Saults” are divided by the Canada-US border, which puts one “Sault” in Ontario and the other in Michigan. This very same border divides the Anishnaabeg of the region; there are two tribes on the southern side of the border, and two First Nations to the north.

      The Indigenous people of the region refer...

  9. Conclusion: Beyond the Paradoxes of the Border
    (pp. 223-238)

    We opened this book with the observation that the border serves a paradoxical function, suturing and separating two countries. We then considered this paradox by examining the mediated border, the political border, and the native border, in each instance parsing out the multiple valences of terms such as mediated, political, and native. We also noted that scholars of the borderlands have long drawn on the discipline of history, which has provided productive tools for thinking about regionality or for comparing and contrasting related phenomena on either side of the border. Despite the richness of this research, however, the paradigms history...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 239-242)
  11. Index
    (pp. 243-250)