The US–Mexican border towns are often defined as both multicultural and relatively young transnational cities, which have grown apart despite their common historical past. The border policy, which actually started during Eisenhower’s administration, seems to favor further differences. Border towns as well as the identity (construction) of their inhabitants – whether they are in passing or not – now seem to change more drastically. The present article analyzes how documentary film-maker Phillip Rodriguez translates urban imagery and ethnographic shifts to the screen, in particular in Mixed Feelings: San Diego/Tijuana (2002) and Los Angeles Now (2003). Close attention will be paid to multimodal strategies and other discursive practices, as well as to the dominant use of English language and the somehow biased focus on the social actors involved in the border zone. We argue that, in his portrayal of border towns, Rodriguez invites his audience to consider border towns from a mainly northern perspective, aiming to represent multilayered and connected worlds, while visualizing dual and divided spaces. We thus seek to answer the question to which extent this discourse on border towns enriches the larger socio-cultural polysystem in terms of transmission of knowledge and affects related to living experiences in urban borderlands.
Border; Phillip Rodriguez; Film Documentary; Urban Imagery; Monolingualism