2nd Bi-national Conference on Border Issues
San Diego City College
December 1, 2011

Presentation of the book “Here is Tijuana”
By: Rene Peralta

Panel 6
Borderlands Grassroots Response to Violence: War Zone vs Cultural Renaissance in Tijuana and San Diego

Outline (10 min slide presentation)

The outlook of contemporary urban areas is complex and fragmented - due to the changes at a global scale, one of them being the persistent migration of rural populations into urbanized areas.

This brings into question how we look at cities and through which perspectives we organize a conceptual framework for their understanding.

Here is Tijuana is an exercise to produce a hybrid document between an almanac, underground tourist guide, coffee table picture book and a visual ethnographical research project.

Here is Tijuana is a multidisciplinary view of the city from the perspective of an architect Rene Peralta, writer Heriberto Yepez and cultural anthropologist Fiamma Montezemolo.

Our three disciplinary perspectives intend to formulate a negotiated view of a city that always has refuted any definition.

Here is Tijuana is also a self –represented perspective of the city through two main points of view 1: texts and images of its own citizens (we archived photos from more than 40 different collaborators including; doctors, photographers, cab drivers, family portraits and other representative groups of the community)

2: A contemporary projection of its images and myth within media, popular culture and academic sectors. (We utilized government information, news media reports academic dissertations, conducted interviews and web search) and other relevant information regarding Tijuana at the end of 20th century and beginning of 21st century.

The book is has three major themes (as chapters) Avatars, Desires and Permutations and many subthemes (not listed) one of them being the presence of the Border! The Border as fence, the border as identity and the border as the mechanism of difference that makes the San Diego/Tijuana region operate.

Avatars - focuses on the social, economic and ethnic aspects of Tijuana. It includes views o formal and informal economies, demographic information and many interviews of the general public and foreigners on how they view and use the city.

For instance in this chapter: Mike Davis explains how to Tijuana was not just the place for inebriated recreation but also the incubator of “forbidden” ideas during the 60’s.

“It was in Tijuana that I first began to appreciate the impact of the Cuban Revolution and was first able to see the U.S. civil rights struggle in a larger perspective. Tijuana was or portal to an entire universe of forbidden and wonderful ideas. My first exposure, for example to the immense heritage of European Marxism and Critical Theory was at the old El Dia bookstore off revolution (avenue).”

Desires - is an ironic play on the culture and customs of the border city. It includes much of the local artistic production as well as information on the red-light district and drug cartels that have framed Tijuana as Sin City.

The city produces cultural paradigms by sometimes resisting and other times adopting the tradition of the south and the assimilation of the north.

The Mexican writer Carlos Monsivais mentions in this chapter: “No matter how much border patriotism is trumpeted, what’s significant is the process where the economic connection with the Unites States becomes a life style, or even a musical instrument.”

“In Tijuana everybody seems to be a poet or a painter.” Anthem Magazine

Permutations - is a detail perspective regarding urban development in the last 20 years. This chapter illustrates the impact that manufacturing parks (maquiladoras) have had in the urban growth. Permutations - also presents the urban conditions of squatter settlements versus the formal social housing tracts that later spread like a virus throughout Mexico. Tijuana has always been the social and urban thermometer for many cities around the country.

Once called the laboratory of postmodernity Tijuana is a remix of our contemporary urban conditions in Latin America and its myth as a new type of Post-Mexican City.

In 2002 Newsweek included Tijuana as one of the world cultural meccas.

“Tijuana is in the middle of an artistic flowering that drawn attention from television executives and museum curators from NY to Tokyo. Artist of all stripes are re-examining the hybrid culture of Tijuana that exists between the glitz of San Diego and the factory life Diego Rivera could have painted.”


This Book is a preamble, so that the reader continues its investigation about its form and meaning, and as you can see there is more to Tijuana than the same old news!