10166 - Vice from a Translocal Perspective - Ciudad Juárez and El Paso in the Era of Prohibition

From 1900 onward Ciudad Juárez and El Paso were subject to enormous industrial and demographic expansion. The economic boom was fueled by US-American investors who poured capital into local industries and modernization projects in both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. An unforeseen population growth was initiated by people who migrated into the border region from both nations looking for work and wealth. The arrival of financial and human capital was accompanied by another important source of capital – vice in form of gambling, consumption of alcohol and prostitution. Both cities had a history of vice – a development that was intensified with the arrival of the railways in the 1880s. In an attempt to rationalize and control the situation in the border region social reformers, politicians and engineers created new norms, regulations and institutions. During the Prohibition Era important patterns changed as the vice center shifted to Ciudad Juárez – becoming a pleasure ground in a literal sense of the word. Thus, life in the border region cannot be understood exclusively in a national context as it was significantly influenced by life across the border. By physically and mentally stepping over the border the inhabitants of the two cities simultaneously transgressed and reaffirmed the national border in one single translocal action. Soldiers, tourists and paseños frequently crossed the border in order to satisfy their lower instincts. Not only the costumers passed the border control but also the vendors of vice. With the development of bootlegging this lead to an increased criminalization of the prostitutes in the border region. But nonetheless the business with the vice flourished as the increasing investments into the infrastructure between the two cities shows. The translocal inhabitants will be analyzed as subjects moving in the urban area and shaping the landscape of the cities. My analysis is based on the assumption that the actors are not acting as autonomous subjects but are subject to discourses order to be heard and seen. However, they are able to – and this exactly is of major interest – produce resistance in their own (daily) practices and are thus in a position to modify or obscure discourses. and practices at the same time in order to function in society – in

Keywords: Concepts and Experiences of Time and Space, Movement, Encounter

Author: Fischer, Robert (Universität Erfurt, Germany / Deutschland)


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