The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.

Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Rossiter, David A.

Second Advisor

Buckley, Patrick H.

Third Advisor

Loucky, James


The territorial conquest involved in making and regulating an international boundary has been central to the creation of many nation-states, as well as to the production of various social categories around those boundaries, particularly citizenship and nationality, but also race, ethnicity, and class. This research aims to analyze how cartographic representations of the U.S.-Mexico border function to communicate social difference. Drawing ideas from critical cartography and social constructivism, I highlight the ways in which maps of this particular border space are not merely objective representations, but rather embody powerful political discourses that have constitutive effects on the identities, and thus treatment, of individuals and collectives engaging in the border region. I trace a genealogy of U.S. cartographic discourse/representation of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands to build critical perspectives on the way knowledge and information are presented through maps, particularly how they work to narrate inclusion and exclusion. This project yields political and social implications as it illuminates the production and definition of a dominant U.S. nation-state in relation to Mexico, the two countries' shared border space, and furthermore illustrates how cartographic discourse can play a major role in how people understand and reconstruct the U.S.-Mexico border.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Cartography--Mexican-American Border Region--History; Cartography--Mexican-American Border Region--Social conditions; Cartography--Political aspects--Mexican-American Border Region; Mexican-American Border Region--History--Maps

Geographic Coverage

Mexican-American Border Region




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Included in

Geography Commons