Mexico-US Border as a Complex System

BT Werner and D. Emily Hicks, A complex systems analysis of resistance against the Mexico-US border

A new meta-analysis methodology for the Mexico-US border based on the study of complex systems is presented. It highlights how borders operate as key societal structures over a broad range of temporal and spatial scales. Over short time scales, borders are geographical traces marking collections of coupled infrastructure, government agents, goods and border crossers. Over longer time scales, border systems connect far flung geographical locales and reflect centuries of history, encompassing colonialism, resource extraction, policy, surveillance and control, nationalism, the international order and resistance movements. Our methodology reveals the pervasive influence of resistance on the border system, with resistance both responding to the injustices to which borders give rise and shaping the evolution of border structures. Complexity provides a means to compare different border analytical frameworks, relate border dynamics to its structures, trace the historical connections between borders and resistance against them, and investigate future possibilities for intervention and action.