The Gendered and Ethnic Politics of Security in Tijuana, Mexico

Rebecca B. Meyers, Brown University

This study provides an ethnographic view of the varieties of insecurities that Tijuanans experience, revealing security as a politically and socially constructed tool of power rather than as a universal concept belonging to the domain of the state. Specifically, it examines how the Mexican state interweaves stereotypes of gender and ethnicity to make citizens, suspects, and security policies. Thus, what the state proposes as security often becomes a threat to the most marginalized Tijuanans, as it defines those acting outside such categories as security threats. Widespread migration, as well as the prevalence of local and transnational crime, accentuates the distrust and strangerhood felt by Tijuanans arriving from across Mexico with different dialects and ways of life. When official notions of appropriate gender and ethnic roles are internalized at the community level as natural moral divisions, differences among residents, who might otherwise have common interests, become exacerbated.

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Presented in Session 39: Demographic Perspectives on Emotions, Happiness, and Hormones