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El Paso: Local Frontiers at a Global Crossroads (Globalization and Community, V. 13)

El Paso: Local Frontiers at a Global Crossroads (Globalization and Community, V. 13)

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Every marker of social difference can be easily interpreted in the fashionable language of "borderlands"-and if so, as Victor M. Ortiz-Gonzalez reveals, the practical reality of the border region is often grossly misrepresented and its people woefully served. He argues that amid the tantalizing abstractions generated by the sweeping reconfigurations of globalization, people in cities like El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, on the U.S.-Mexican border, are actually living the gritty realities of a new world order.

With descriptions of grassroots initiatives to confront the challenges and opportunities that NAFTA represents for the city, El Paso challenges us to acknowledge and address the conceptual and sociopolitical tasks of a world in which abstract representations and nonlocal interests override concrete situations. Ortiz-Gonzalez also provides an in-depth analysis of groups such as La Mujer Obrera, Unite El Paso, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and their attempts to give local residents and workers more autonomy and power.

Balancing ethnographic detail with precise theoretical insights, El Paso offers a compelling case study and a stirring call to understand both the conceptual challenge and the social urgency of the effects of globalizationin local settings.

Victor M. Ortiz-Gonzalez is coordinator of the Mexican and Caribbean Studies Program at Northeastern Illinois University.