Map of United States Borders and Identity Logo Map of United States

What is a border? Is the border a particular kind of region or social environment? If so, does the border tend to produce a particular kind of culture? And what is the relationship between this environment and its culture?

To answer some of these questions, the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife Programs & Cultural Studies presented the Borderlands Festival program at the 1993 Festival of American Folklife in Washington, D.C. Based on studies of rich and dynamic borderland cultures, the Borderlands Festival provided a glimpse of life in these transitional regions--their histories, diverse communities, local and regional identities, music, arts, crafts, healing practices, foodways, and narratives. Contained herein is part of the collection of stories and essays shared at the Borderlands Festival. To find out more about borders and the Borderlands Festival, visit the Borderlands Virtual Festival on the Center's Web site.

Below are links to essays taken from the Borderlands Festival Program Booklet, 1993

United States-Mexico Borderlands/La Frontera
Living on the Border: A Wound That Will Not Heal
Cultural Identities on the Mexico-United States Border

The Problem of Identity in a Changing Culture
Arizona-Sonora Border: Line, Region, Magnet, and Filter
The Texas-Mexican Conjunto
Mixteco Women on the Migration Route
1993 Borderlands/La Frontera Virtual Festival Tour

During the Festival, many people of the borderlands shared their ideas and stories of what it means to a person, a family, and a culture to be divided by borders. Click on the icons below to hear what some had to say. To hear the audio, you must first download the free realaudio player.

  Woman with guitarEnrique Lamarid speaks about juggling dual identities along the U.S.-Mexico border

"...In the border areas, we're always redefining ourselves....
We have dual identities."

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 Color swatchEnrique Lamarid & Omar Galvan discuss the migration of Spanish words into the English language.

"...Words that you use everyday in English come from Spanish...."

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 Child's faceBrad Bonaparte of Canada discusses how borders impose new structure on people.

"...Our people have been living there for hundreds of years, and we didn't put the border there. Somebody else put the border in after us, and it literally divided a people...."

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