Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities
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Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities

Edited by Kris Bezdecny and Kevin Archer

The majority of the world's population now live in cities, nearly a quarter of which boast populations of one million or more. The rise of globalisation has granted cities unprecedented significance, both politically and economically, leading to benefits and problems at national and international levels. The Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities explores the changes that are occurring in cities, and the impacts that they are having, at the local, national and global scale.
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Chapter 13: The US–Mexico transfrontier metropolis: Theoretical and empirical explorations

Lawrence A. Herzog


Since the middle of the 20th century, there has been a geographic shift of population toward international frontiers, especially in Europe and North America, but also in parts of Asia. In some cases, significant urban agglomerations of half a million or more inhabitants have come to occupy regions on both sides of an international boundary, creating what can be termed a ‘transfrontier metropolis’. Much of the growth of these international boundary urban spaces has been the result of globalization forces including the emergence of global manufacturing (or ‘offshore”) enclaves, cross-border labor markets, trade, tourism, technology transfers, and the evolution of digital communication. This chapter seeks both to outline the contours of the transfrontier metropolis, and explore its evolution over recent decades, leading up to current debates over the building of border walls and the future of cross-border cooperation. It reviews examples of emerging cross-border metropolitan spaces in the context of globalization, with special attention to the example of the United States–Mexican border. Macro- and micro-forces transforming international boundary regions are outlined. The chapter then analyses the processes of ‘rebordering’ (reasserting the need for traditional national frontier barriers such as walls and fences, in an era of global terrorism, transnational smuggling and perceived insecurity) and ‘debordering’ (relaxing old border paradigms in favor of more open borders to allow for cross-border trade, culture, cooperation). Using the example of the US–Mexico border zone, a case study of the Tijuana–San Diego metropolitan region offers empirical examples of the interplay of debordering and rebordering dynamics in the first decade-and a -half of the 21st century. Three specific case studies in Tijuana–San Diego serve to illustrate how debordering and rebordering mediate the changing nature of urban space in a transfrontier metropolis. Those examples include: planning for ports of entry, the building of a fence through a national environmental sanctuary, and the redevelopment of downtown Tijuana.

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