In Porous Borders: Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the US-Mexico Borderlands, Julian Lim provides an eminently readable analysis of mixing, passing, and crossing of all kinds, focused geographically in and around the US border town of El Paso, Texas, as the nineteenth century turned to the twentieth. In Lim's account, little is solid or fixed: not borders, not bodies, not law, and especially not racial meaning. The porousness of multiple boundaries—not just the United States–Mexico territorial line—reveals the conditional, contextual meaning of race, always subject to change, already recast, entirely socially constructed. Lim's deep analysis highlights contingency in the lives of Chinese immigrants, African Americans, and Mexicans and Mexican Americans, depending on their physical location, how law and society racialized their bodies at particular moments, and how they themselves acted, resisted, and innovated to determine their own existence. Lim likewise...

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