Title: Show how the concepts of territory and flow help us understand the conflict over water in the Mexico-US Border region.
It is an essential component of human behaviour to seek to control and defend the spaces we live in. Territories are a way of bringing order, control and borders to society. Territorial ordering awards spaces exclusivity and cultural sovereignty, making them exclusive and defendable (Albert et al, 1999). In a world of increasing globalisation notions of borderless worlds created by limitless and unregulated flow of goods, populations, information and technology across territories of culture, power and resources are being discussed as a possible solution for existing border conflicts and human inequality; Other ideologists prefer the reterritorialisation of society in order not to lose cultural and historical identities and to avoid regional segregation (Yiftachel, 2001; Williams, 2005). Borders are historical artefacts which change over time and draw a clear line between the rules, laws and social patterns of different countries. While they do not separate cultural territories and identities, the vicinity yet separation between opposing nations often produces a particular kind of society along border regions. In such regions, commerce, dialogue and maintenance of identities and cultures are of a much higher importance than elsewhere (Yiftachel, 2001). Territories, marked by resources, cultural heritage, history or simply ideology, are not subject to legal borders (Newman, 2005). The conflict of territory and flow and the dispute about the extent to which they should be regulated to secure the best possible outcome for all neighbouring nations is vastly evident along the US-Mexico Border. Following, this essay will examine the history and presence of the US border conflict with emphasis on the role of water in the disputes of territory and flow. The US-Mexico border is the most frequently crossed international border in the world (Hanson, 2007; Water Politics, 2012). It stretches 3,169 km across beaches, mountains, deserts and along the Rio Grande. It separates Mexico from the US states California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. But this has not always been the case; before the Guadeloupe Hidalgo Treaty in 1848, Mexico’s territory expanded vastly into what is now the states of Colorado, Wyoming, California, Utah, Arizona and Texas. As a result of the treaty with the US, Mexico lost more than 55 % of its original territory (Hanson, 2007). This treaty – some say it has been agreed on under duress of continuous US occupation (Chacon, 2010) – created the first legal border between the US and Mexico, thereby separating many indigenous tribes and families who have been living in the border region as part of a homogenous group. The Rio Grande, now constituting half of the US-Mexico border, has been rumoured to be the start of the US-Mexico border conflict (Wolfe and Newton, 2005; Hanson, 2007) and is up to this date the cause of many legal and cultural disputes (Water Politics, 2012). First conflicts started in 1850 when wealthy US cattlemen acquired large areas of land bordering on the river in order to assert their dominance over the primarily Spanish and indigenous population and control the flow of goods and people across the river border. Those were the first agricultural opportunists taking advantage of the principle of territory and flow. When floods and natural changes caused the river to alter its course and move southwards in 1873, Mexico suddenly lost over 600 acres of its territory. People of Mexican heritage found themselves yet again within US culture and society. This land wasn’t returned until 100 later, when the river’s course was artificially altered to reassign less than half of the originally Mexican land. However, the remaining Mexican people on US soil still maintain their culture and identities today; as territories are not subject to borders. This became known as...
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