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Narrating North American Borderlands

Thomas King, Howard F. Mosher and Jim Lynch

Series:

Evelyn P. Mayer

The study centers on the presentation of the North American borderlands in the works of Canadian Native writer Thomas King’s Truth & Bright Water (1999), American writer Howard Frank Mosher’s On Kingdom Mountain (2007), and American writer Jim Lynch’s Border Songs (2009). The three authors describe the peoples and places in the northeastern, middle and northwestern border regions of the USA and Canada. The novels address important border-oriented aspects such as indigeneity, the borderlands as historic territory and as utopian space, border crossing and transcendence, post-9/11 security issues, social interaction along the border, and gender specifics. The interpretation also examines the meaning of border imaginaries, border conceptualizations, and the theme of resistance and subversion.
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1 Introduction: Border Contexts and the Notion of the Beyond

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1  Introduction: Border Contexts and the Notion of the Beyond

The history of Canada-U.S. bilateral relations is marked by shifts obvious in the way the border between the two nation-states has been managed, maintained, and negotiated. The Canada-U.S.1 border was originally imposed on indigenous lands by the colonial powers in North America2. Nonetheless, aside from some border skirmishes or disputes in the 19th century, the border was friendly, open, and permeable for the local border residents and other border crossers. This was to change at the beginning of the 21st century. Instead of the so-called “longest undefended border” the Canada-U.S. border has become a controlled and secured border. The “thickening” (Ackleson 336) of the Canada-U.S. border is in fact a practice of rebordering. Border permeability and border mobility are increasingly dependent on border management and policies such as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)3. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 marked a turning point in the change from open to closed border. In the wake of 9/11, suspicion regarding this loophole in the U.S. defense system against terrorists was directed at the Canada-U.S. border due to seemingly insufficient controls, patrols, and lax immigration laws. Borders continue to play a key role in our ever-shrinking world marked by the opposing forces of globalization and simultaneous regionalization. Processes of recurrent bordering or debordering, i.e. thickening or blurring of borders, unfold constantly. Paradoxically, borders are increasingly important in the formerly so-called “borderless world” (Ohmae). Borders project a sense of...

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