A Garden or a Grave? The Canyonic Landscape of the Tijuana-San Diego Region

Lesley Stern
Date and Time: 
Monday, October 14, 2013 - 3:15pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


We stand on a dusty ledge on the edge of a canyon near a freeway and a long snaking wall, the wall that divides Tijuana and San Diego, Mexico and the U.S. On one side we look down to preserved wetlands—on the other side to a slum city. These two landscapes are forged out of one canyon, Las Laureles Canyon, through which sometimes flows (and sometimes flows disastrously) the Tijuana River. The entire Tijuana-San Diego area is built on, around, and in spite of canyons. Some, in a spirit of ecological progress, are now being Edenically restored, some are being progressively destroyed. But they are all linked. Los Laureles Canyon has served as a laboratory for various disciplinary investigations—ethnography, ecology, urban planning, border studies. …This paper, while mindful of these approaches, asks, rather, how might we write the story of the canyons and their inhabitants in that space where ideas of ‘landscape’ and conceptions of ‘the garden’ intersect. Not always harmoniously.

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