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Geopolitics

ISSN: 1465-0045 (Print) 1557-3028 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fgeo20

Graffiti, Art, and Advertising: Re-Scaling Claims to


Space at the Edges of the Nation-State
Kenneth D. Madsen
To cite this article: Kenneth D. Madsen (2015) Graffiti, Art, and Advertising: Re-Scaling
Claims to Space at the Edges of the Nation-State, Geopolitics, 20:1, 95-120, DOI:
10.1080/14650045.2014.896792
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14650045.2014.896792

Published online: 08 Aug 2014.

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Date: 03 May 2016, At: 07:42

Geopolitics, 20:95120, 2015


Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1465-0045 print / 1557-3028 online
DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2014.896792

Graffiti, Art, and Advertising: Re-Scaling Claims


to Space at the Edges of the Nation-State
KENNETH D. MADSEN
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Department of Geography, The Ohio State University, Newark, OH, USA

Physical barriers are an increasingly popular political mechanism


for central government control over the flows of goods and people at
borders. This medium also, however, serves as a canvas for unsanctioned expressions of belonging. Just as graffiti and art are deployed
in the urban landscape as unconventional means of claiming
space, they are utilised on international border barriers to contest
prevalent political winds and re-claim local and alternative senses
of who belongs and what is deemed important in debates over
border policy. This paper considers unauthorised text and visual
imagery on the border barriers of the Arizona-Sonora section of
the US-Mexico boundary as a therapeutic reaction to a state-dominated border policy which downplays local impacts. It is argued
that such imagery serves to re-scale border space and thereby re
capture a sense of belonging by those whose roles are marginalised
by national politics and the neoliberal global economy.

INTRODUCTION
Local border communities have gradually lost flexibility over the last century
in their interactions across international borders. This process has accelerated
in recent decades as central governments have increased their presence and
tightened control over these spaces, which are seen as critical to national
security. Among the Tohono Oodham of southern Arizona and northern
Sonora, for example, cross-border networks have been progressively constrained by and divvied up between the US and Mexico.1 In a study of one
south Texas community the closeness between two neighbouring border
towns has been portrayed as succumbing to increasing border barriers and
Address correspondence to Kenneth D. Madsen, Department of Geography, The Ohio
State University, Newark, OH 43210, USA. E-mail: madsen.34@osu.edu
Color versions of one or more of the figures in the article can be found online at www.
tandfonline.com/fgeo.
95

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Kenneth D. Madsen

other security measures.2 Residents of bi-national communities those areas


with residents in close proximity living on the opposite side of a boundary
find it increasingly difficult to interact with family and friends, go shopping,
or participate in social or civic events across the border. Longer waiting lines,
additional documentation, and greater security checks discourage casual
crossings and news of violence in Mexico or poor treatment of Mexicans
in the United States provides additional deterrence to such interaction.
Once a detail of little concern nationally, local crossings and interactions
have become intimately tied up with greater national and international economic and security concerns.3 Although academic geographers have questioned the inevitability of the nation-state system which is premised on the
concept of central government sovereignty,4 from a local perspective these
theoretical ponderings have little currency and power and control continues
to reside with central governments and supra-national market forces. This
situation leaves local communities grasping to make sense of their status as
front and centre in the international flows of goods and people, yet sidelined
in terms of relevant policy input and traditional local cross-border relations.
In recent decades there has been a global resurgence in the construction
of border barriers,5 a phenomenon also clearly evident along the ArizonaSonora boundary. Construction of fencing to deter human crossings here
can be traced back to the 1930s and 1940s in urban areas. Barrier structures
located in rural areas at this time was still motivated largely by the need to
contain and protect livestock from the spread of disease. Fence construction
in this stretch was revived in urban areas in the 1970s with a heavy-duty
metal mesh design, which was in turn upgraded with re-purposed military
tarmac in the 1990s.6 Over time these formats were slowly extended into
rural areas, with new and replacement construction accelerating with the
Secure Fence Act of 2006.7
Technologies of control constructed by the state to further its interests,8
border barriers are often demanded by domestic political constituencies
interested in protecting the privileged status quo as manifest in jobs or
cultural integrity.9 In Arizona and elsewhere along the southern US border activist groups have assembled to assist with detecting illegal entries.
More importantly, however, these groups seek to call attention to the need
to fully seal the border and in many they have found a sympathetic audience. Yet despite extensive construction, the political environment in which
border barriers are built provides little consensus on the topic and their
proliferation is simultaneously contested by both domestic and international
constituencies that denounce such construction.10
Border walls and fences are issues of great interest to central governments, but as with many national concerns their placement is set in specific
locales and has complications for local residents that simply do not register
in a significant way in national conversations. Local residents are often more
attuned to the negative consequences of border policies without directly

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reaping many of the benefits hoped for by proponents of more secure borders. Local residents live first-hand issues that are off the radar screen of
national debates: less local business from across the border, environmental
ramifications of illegal traffic and enforcement, more cumbersome crossings
for daily tasks, and even restricted mobility within their own country.
Local residents may hope for many of the same benefits prioritised in
national debates protecting workers, controlling the flow of drugs and
other contraband, sovereignty, security but disagree that tighter borders
which fail to account for local impacts are appropriate ways to accomplish that goal. Local concerns on the constructing side of border barriers
are taken into account to some degree as part of the greater body politic
when formulating central government policies, but discrepancies in political
clout and the demonisation of local cross-border ties ultimately dismiss many
local apprehensions over barrier construction in favour of national interests.
Despite advocating for maintenance of cross-border connections often
the main thrust of border resident concerns local interests are balanced
against more highly prioritised national security issues. Various communities
have different perspectives on this issue, of course, and even within a given
community there is hardly conformity of opinion. Yet even when local communities argue for more security to protect themselves from illegal traffic,
how that gets implemented is balanced against secondary national criticisms
of too much overt militarisation and the protection of civil rights. Either way
national perspectives persistently outrank local concerns in terms of ideals
and actions.
While governments of countries whose populations are targeted by
fences and walls may occasionally voice concerns over these structures,11
out of deference to political sovereignty they are generally quiet in terms
of overt activism. After all, the barriers are not constructed on their soil and
conflict would have limited impact. As a result the urge to protest publically is stifled in order to maintain a positive working relationship on issues
of mutual interest. While this helps explain the lack of a national voice
from the targeted side of border fences and walls, also missing from the
public discussion is the perspective of local residents on the targeted side
of these structures. Lacking formal channels for expression, in some ways
local residents on the targeted side follow the trajectory modelled by their
central governments accepting the inevitable largely in silence. At best,
collaboration with and representation through sympathetic counterparts in
communities just across the border or more far-reaching anti-barrier groups
on the constructing side happens unofficially. There is no direct channel for
impacting border policies which have such a great impact on their lives.
Where providing a solid surface, however, the barriers themselves have
inadvertently provided a forum for public display of alternative viewpoints
in the form of graffiti and unauthorised public art.12 Given their unauthorised
nature, such messages are generally unrestricted by international diplomatic

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Kenneth D. Madsen

etiquette or even a need to be acceptable to broader society. By virtue of


location, accessibility, and familiarity this forum for protest favours and is
targeted by local border communities. Nonetheless, messages with origins
outside the immediate borderlands generally those representing nonmainstream political perspectives on the constructing side comprise an
important element of what is found here as well. I assert in this paper
that graffiti and art on border barriers provides a means for both groups
to think through and resist an exclusive national understanding of power.
Concerns voiced in the landscape in this way provide a means for border
communities and others to temporarily gain the upper hand in the lopsided
geopolitical power relations which generally relegate their concerns to the
sidelines. Sometimes anonymous and largely urban, along the US-Mexico
border graffiti and art is also largely internal to local communities as it is
mostly found on the targeted side of the fence and therefore hidden from
view by a broader audience that could have some impact on border barrier policy. Nonetheless, as a political statement such work often gains a
wider audience in the press and on the web which enhances its potential to
influence others.13
As I argue in this article graffiti, art, and even commercial advertising
on border barriers all serve an important function in highlighting local complications of a border policy dominated by national interests. This re-scaling
of the issues also serves a cathartic function for local communities, both for
the artists and those who come in contact with their messages. After commenting on my research methods and theoretical framework, I will briefly
consider the distinction between graffiti and art as one largely influenced by
political perspective. I then support my assertion of such work as politically
and socially therapeutic for local communities and those with anti-barrier
political perspectives with reference to literature largely grounded in psychology. I then turn more directly to the idea of graffiti (and by extension
barrier art and advertising) as a form of political protest and discussion of
specific ways in which such work on Arizona-Sonora border barriers resists
exclusive national control of border policy.

METHODS AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK


As a scholar of the Arizona-Sonora borderlands I have closely followed
developments in border barrier construction since 1998. The present work
emphasises a landscape interpretation of a particular local response (graffiti, art, and advertising) to the rise of border barrier construction in the last
several decades. Early research undertaken as part of my M.A. thesis,14 formal interviews of thirty border residents in 2010 regarding their thoughts on
US-Mexico border fencing, intermittent fieldwork among local border communities on other topics, and ongoing dialogue with local residents further

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inform the ideas presented in this paper. Although informed by field interviews and interactions that included some visits with people responsible for
the text and visual imagery found on border barriers, this is not a paper that
presents a literal understanding from the perspective of artists. The interpretations presented here are the authors in light of the context and effective
impact of graffiti, art, and advertising.15
In presenting different perspectives on space at the border the agency
of local communities, regional and national voices, and a broader framework
of control and resistance in the context of border barriers and unauthorised
visual messages this paper considers dynamics at multiple levels to better
understand borders.16 Attempts to re-orient attention to what a group or individual feels is important in debates over border issues, especially in regards
to local concerns, is what I refer to in this paper as a re-scaling of claims to
space at the edges of the nation-state. Re-scaling calls attention to the state of
exception claimed by central governments to support contemporary border
policies17 exceptions which disproportionally affect border residents while
often being ignored or glossed over by others.
I frame my argument in terms of scale because graffiti, art, and advertising on border barriers shift discussion over this symbol of state power18
towards a greater consideration of its local ramifications. These mediums
also re-configure borders and border policy to a more immediate and locally
lucid level of human understanding. Although our specific examples are
distinct in that I focus on a wider array of actors who have a medium in
common rather than the political ambitions of a single artist, the re-scaling
process is similar to Smiths concept of jumping scale.19 Interestingly both
movements are inspired by and coalesce around art as a force for social
change. And just as the homeless vehicle discussed by Smith may not be
perceived by many viewers as art, neither do many people include graffiti or
advertising in such a category. My preference for the term re-scaling rather
than jumping scale reflects a subtle understanding of this process bringing different levels of interaction and influence together and capturing their
inherent integration. Furthermore re-scaling as envisioned here responds to
manifestations of the national and global at the border rather than requiring
local individuals advocate for themselves on a national or global stage.
Insofar as local entities initiate and direct public discussion on policy and its impacts, graffiti, art, and advertising on border barriers actually
reverses the dominant appropriation of space wherein constructing central
governments impose greater security for national purposes in these locations.
In this sense the process of re-scaling is not only a top-down phenomenon,
but also a bottom-up process re-scaling works up as well as down what
is traditionally conceived of as the hierarchy of scale. Top-down scalar processes have been perceived as dominant in the past and criticised for that
reason,20 but are viewed here as simply one way in which power works at
international borders.

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Although I utilise the terminology of scale, in many ways my approach


to understanding these processes follows Marston et al.s discussion of a flat
ontology which argues that the national is not a distant entity from which
the local is removed and unable to concretely interact. In a flat ontology
national and global decisions are made and take place locally somewhere
and recognising this dynamic can be empowering in terms of resistance as it
provides additional opportunities for intervention.21 Graffiti artists take this a
step farther by interacting with the manifestation of seemingly distant policies
on their own turf rather than engaging abstract policy decisions in distant
(albeit local to someone) places.22 Whether those who inscribe messages
on the Mexican side of US border barriers create effective entry points for
themselves in the larger debate over border security or simply chip away
at the local foundations of national power in a larger hierarchy of scale23
is a greater theoretical debate that this paper does not seek to resolve. The
argument could certainly be made, however, that such individuals are not so
much re-scaling these issues as un-scaling them.
Finally, it should be noted that re-scaling as discussed in this article is
to be distinguished from the rescaling literature wherein it is argued that the
national is being superseded by local and global forms of power, a view
that has been critiqued Mansfield.24 Re-scaling here is a specific means of
contesting the role of state and national political interests in local lives rather
than something indicative of broader shifts in power or a theoretical situatedness that downplays the role of national efforts. Following Mansfield, this
study recognises both the local and the national as inter-related dimensions
of each other.25

GRAFFITI AS PUBLIC ART


At its most basic level, graffiti is an inscription of text or graphics usually
anonymously on a publically accessible surface.26 On an existential level
it proves the writers existence, even though it is generally encountered by
others only incidentally.27 On a political level, graffiti has alternately been
described as a form of anarchistic resistance and an assertion of a right to
be-in-place.28 For Cresswell and other geographers graffiti poses the bigger
questions of Who gets to say that certain meanings are appropriate? and
ultimately Whose world is it? and Who belongs?29 In their groundbreaking
essay, Ley and Cybriwsky discussed how inner city youth use graffiti as one
of the few outlets available to them to lay claims to belonging in the urban
landscape.30 Moreau and Alderman recognised graffiti as an alternate means
of communication for disenfranchised individuals to question established
power and authority.31 In their study of anti-graffiti initiatives, graffiti were
perceived as a threat to the status quo and anti-graffiti efforts ultimately
served to reinforce exclusionary representations of society.

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Graffiti is characterised by its subversive nature. Written to be publically


visible, outdoor graffiti usually defaces the property of others and lacks official authorisation. Although it is ultimately ephemeral and can be removed
or written over, graffiti or its traces are nonetheless a very durable act of violation and repeat graffiti in the same location is common. Given its general
prohibition by authorities, it is also usually a spatial rather than synchronous
confrontation. In recent decades graffiti has largely become associated with
gangs marking and defending their territory in an urban environment.32 Even
though much of it is written by individuals and groups with no such criminal affiliation,33 graffiti is generally a criminalised form of communication.34
This criminalisation is ironic given that the surfaces where graffiti appears
get appropriated for such purposes in many cases because these locations
are not highly valued by society.35
Public art, by contrast, generally seeks authorisation and inclusivity and
pursues acceptability by authorities and a broader cross-section of society.
Whereas art in general may also confront and confound expectations in
order to make a point, public art tends to emphasise the positives rather
than challenge the negatives in society. In most cases public art is located in
spaces more highly accessible, trafficked, and valued than where graffiti is
found. When in a street setting likely to host to graffiti, murals a particular
type of public art are often used to reinforce social control and approved
landscape messages while deterring more spontaneous artwork even if it
sometimes imitates graffitis style (Figure 1).36
While for most people the distinction between graffiti and public art is
clear, this is not always the case. For some people and in some circumstances
these categories blur. David and Wilson wrote that when inscriptions cease
to be seen as polluting, they cease to be graffiti, instead becoming public art
or street decoration in the eyes of controlling institutions.37 In that sense we
might consider some of the graffiti and unauthorised artwork on the Mexican
side of US border barriers to be a form of public art with broad social appeal.
Whether spontaneous or planned it is tolerated by Mexican authorities who
control effective access to sites on the south side of US border barriers even
if they technically have no jurisdiction over such structures. The messages
on the Mexican side of the barriers are generally welcomed for their political
content and aesthetics by authorities and residents.
While barrier artwork has a greater and less objectionable presence
along the Mexican side of the border, in the sense that it is done without
permission of property owners it can continue to be classified as a form
of graffiti. Alvarez stated that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
regularly removes graffiti on the US side,38 but given the enormity of the
surface area, the relative lack of contact US populations have with the wall,
and the likely futility of such efforts, this is perhaps not always a priority.
While new barrier styles can provide physical openings for increased control
over artwork on the Mexican side of the border barriers, removal remains a

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FIGURE 1 This artwork along the pedestrian walkway exiting north of the Douglas, Arizona
port-of-entry not only beautifies an otherwise nondescript utilitarian space, it helps pre-empt
unauthorized graffiti and its inherent message of disrespect for the established order in a place
designed to epitomize control and the rule of law. Artwork has also been commissioned at
other ports of entry and in nearby Naco decorative murals have been authorized on the border
barriers themselves. (Jan. 2010)
All photographs by the author.

relatively low priority for the Border Patrol unless it actively interferes with
enforcement activities or safety.39
Graffiti art on border barriers is a liminal category between casually subversive graffiti thrown up quickly and anonymously and public art or other
commissioned works which are planned out, credited to known artists, and
approved by public authorities and property owners. As with more elaborate urban pieces, graffiti art on border barriers often incorporates elements
of both of these categories, falling closer to the graffiti end on the spectrum
for some people and decorative neighbourhood enhancement for others.
The blurring of these two categories lends legitimacy to the graffiti and street
credentials to the art. Regardless of where it lies on the spectrum between
graffiti and high art, however, graffiti art often has an overt political message
and even when lacking intentionality makes claims to space and belonging
and shifts attention to an alternative understanding of the role of border
barriers.
In functional terms the border barriers themselves can also be considered a form of graffiti on the landscape by those who disagree with
its presence.40 Like graffiti as more widely understood, it disrupts the

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surrounding environments serenity to confront the reader and send a message in this case condemning and criminalising the passing flows it
witnesses. The federal government may be the controlling landowner, but
traditional local interactions and visual environments get interrupted. Similar
to other forms of graffiti, barrier supporters seem to have felt that their perspective was not being heard and as such it needed to be engraved in the
landscape. In this respect the border fence is as much message as form and
elicits support from the public in its efforts to control movement by clarifying what is allowed or prohibited. Beyond the border, popular political
sentiment in constructing countries often appreciates the structures for their
security role both in practice and rhetoric regardless of aesthetics. In an ironic
reversal of positions vis--vis more traditional graffiti, however, the subaltern
is more likely to see the border barriers as futile efforts and decry them as
scars on the landscape. Ones politics define what they perceive as graffiti.
For the purposes of this paper it is not necessary to make a definitive
distinction between graffiti and public art on border barriers. Indeed, they
may even be considered two sides of the same coin. More important is the
recognition that both are an alternative political means of communication.
Advertising will be introduced later as a parallel means of claiming space
and re-scaling ones attention with regard to these structures.

GRAFFITI AS COPING MECHANISM


Agreeing with geographers discussed earlier, Hanauer wrote that graffiti has
been shown to be a natural outlet for marginalized groups to express their
internal sense of identity and injustice. Hanauer takes his analysis a bit further, however, in understanding graffiti as the psychological embodiment
of the writers self-image and a source of self-empowerment.41 Writing from
a clinical perspective, Boldt and Paul maintain that
creating art itself has communicative power and is an attempt to be
understood. From the earliest markings found in the caves of Lascaux
to yesterdays graffiti still wet on the sides of subways, visual art has a
powerful way of evoking thought and emotion in the viewer, holding
within it joy, pain, love, hate, and life waiting to be consumed, or a
persons hope to speak in ways he or she could not manage otherwise.42

In reflecting on her lifes work using art therapy with children, Edith Kramer
further stated the following with regards to young adults:
I think that only if they feel that they can have some impact on the
environment can they really feel that theyre growing. Art therapists need
to move much more out into the community, into the empty lots, and
build things with found objects, and make murals on the brick walls. The

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young adult has to somehow feel that hes in command of a little part
of the world, at least some part of the world, and not only the symbolic
world on a piece of paper. Thats also good, but a wall would be better.43

Kramer was not advocating illegal graffiti, but her point about public art
has validity for the present work. Participation in a public hearing or a letter to the editor may get ones perspective heard among a select group of
people and even add it to a permanent record, but ultimately such venues
are mediated by others.44 Graffiti, by contrast, communicates ones message
uncensored and with greater immediacy and depth. On border barriers it is
also surprisingly durable given the low priority accorded its removal. I contend that this type of self-validation controlling and communicating ones
message in their own little part of the world is therapeutic not only for
controlled counselling situations, but also those who feel disenfranchised in
other ways.
Several studies have discussed the connection between politically motivated graffiti and mourning in the case of graffiti in Tel Aviv appearing at the
site of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabins assassination in 1995.45 Hanauer
specifically concluded from his analysis of this event that there is evidence
that graffiti has significant therapeutic potential as a mode of response to
trauma and issues of identity negotiation.46 In terms of graffiti and unauthorised art on border barriers, expressing perspectives which have been
suppressed or dismissed by oneself or others substitutes for a more substantial breaching of the barriers and allows a similar element of healing to take
place in the face of disruption inflicted on local communities.47 Border residents are largely passive recipients of enforcement-based border policies and
by means of such an unauthorised reaction artists push back against an externally imposed structure in a very tangible way in order to advocate for local
and other alternative concerns. Even when noticeable responses are lacking,
graffiti and graffiti art in this context are opportunities to vent. Seizing the
opportunity to present their message on the very materiality of policies that
they are protesting48 is cathartic for those who feel disenfranchised by these
forces.

CONTESTING SPACE AND GEOPOLITICAL PARADIGMS


WITH GRAFFITI
Peteet found that during the First Intifada in the early 1990s graffiti in
the occupied West Bank represented a form of resistance in dominantsubordinate relations between Palestinians and the occupying Israelis who
censored their communication. Taking to the walls, Peteet wrote, was a
sort of last-ditch effort to speak and be heard. For the censored Palestinians
it also served as internal dialogue between political factions.49 Along the

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FIGURE 2 Study area map.


Cartography by the author.

contemporary Israeli security barrier Jones has described graffiti as illustrating


the broken windows theory in reverse: The paint symbolizes the complete
failure of the Israeli state to control activities along the border and to control
the imagination of the population.50 The importance of writing on barriers
is more than just effective dialogue or communication in the Arizona-Sonora
context considered here as well (Figure 2). Graffiti and unauthorised public
art are concrete acts of incremental resistance and one of few avenues to
publicly contest border barriers and policies that are available to residents
on the Mexican side of the border. One of the ways local border residents
and outside groups voice their concerns, then, is by talking back. Graffiti
and art serve as attempts to re-insert local and alternative claims to place
at a time when national and global forces dominate in the yin and yang of
simultaneously fortifying and working across borders.
In considering Australian aboriginal place markings at the time of
European Contact, David and Wilson argued that express political content
is not required for graffiti to be considered a territorial claim or resistance
to encroachment by others, but rather placement alone can be considered
a clear indication of such.51 In that sense all unauthorised artwork on border barriers can be considered an inherently political act that contests the
existence and/or manner of implementation of those barriers (Figure 3).
Although some graffiti may have more substantive and obvious political content, simply by defacing US government property and more specifically a
tool used to prohibit undocumented and illegal cross-border traffic border barrier graffiti sends a message of contempt and disrespect. Graffiti is a
medium well-suited to giving voice to local individuals and groups as it relies
on a physical presence as a locus of transgression to express ones perspective. In this sense graffiti and art, particularly on the Mexican side of the border barriers, represents a form of reverse marginality whereby the periphery
has the upper hand in terms of daily life and therefore strategic resistance.52
As a form of protest border barrier graffiti and politicised art may seem
futile to outsiders just as urban graffiti seems by many to accomplish little
of substance beyond visual pollution of the urban fabric. From an artistic

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FIGURE 3 Although the content of this geometric artwork in San Luis Ro Colorado, Sonora
does not explicitly contest U.S. border policies, such images still challenge claims to space
by visually appropriating the local manifestation of distant border policies and U.S. federal
hegemony over the border for other purposes in this case Mexican public art. (Jan. 2004)

perspective, however, such creative actions draw attention to the impact of


barriers in a very dramatic fashion. Street artist Ron English has described
his artwork on the Israeli security barrier as a mode of communication that
prioritised an act of creation over other more destructive acts of resistance.
Furthermore, art is a medium that in many ways speaks louder and lasts
longer than a violent protest.53
A unique aspect of graffiti on border fences is that it represents dialogue
not with policy makers or a distant electorate, but the landscape embodiment
of policy the border barriers themselves. Guarini has stated that the Berlin
Wall was the loudest no that could be communicated yet its power to forbid was ridiculed by Western graffiti.54 Alvarez follows this in understanding
US barrier construction, graffiti, and art as visual proclamations and commentaries about US border policy etched in the landscape. As Alvarez stated
in the title of her work, it is La Pared Que Habla The Wall that Speaks.55
And it does so in both directions 24/7. Drawing on the performative aspects
of border walls explored by Brown, Hidalgo states that art draws attention
to the controversies surrounding the walls, while the contested nature of
the walls draws attention to the art.56 In many ways the barriers also serve
as a visible focus for resistance which stands in for more intangible power
relationships and border policies.57
While its effectiveness in thwarting flows is debated, the fence as a
means of communicating federal policy to deter entrance by migrants and
smugglers from Mexico is clear. The protest messages of graffiti and other
unauthorised artists, by contrast, is largely imperceptible by those to whom

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it is addressed even if it is gratifying indeed, therapeutic for individuals


involved in the process or who pass by on a daily basis. Even when not
immediately changing the trajectory of US border policy, however, as a
way to counter claims to space graffiti remains a powerful medium to
incrementally contest distant federal policies. Most importantly in terms of
the arguments in this paper, it re-orients ones attention and perspective,
subverting the intent of the surface on which it is placed. The graffiti as
well as unauthorised art and advertising allows members of and advocates
for local communities and migrants to assert their voice. These visual
mediums challenge casual acceptance of policy implementation among
the local population in an era of globalisation when local communities in
general are seeing increases in outside influences and border communities
in particular are experiencing growing demands for visible security measures
by interior residents. Recognising that on border and security issues national
priorities trump local needs, in some small measure barrier graffiti and art
help to return a sense of place and control back to border communities in a
time when their political clout is being eroded. This dynamic is particularly
strong on the Sonoran side of the US-Mexican border. Given greater input
on policy, less direct contact with the border, and a closer patrolling of the
fence from the US, the Arizona side has less graffiti, but where present it
serves a similar purpose.
Just as graffiti elsewhere reflects dialogue between competing political
perspectives or claims to space,58 graffiti here more specifically engages contemporary US policy with messages of opposition. For local border residents
writing such graffiti or displaying political art on the border barriers expresses
a desire to get attention for their concerns, and prompts a re-thinking of the
issues that should be balanced when formulating and carrying out border
policies. Although not their primary concern, regional and national interest
groups also play off the theme of local division as a means to accomplish their own goals of critiquing border policy. While the goals of both
groups are sometimes complementary, they are frequently distinct in detail
and scope. Whereas border residents are more concerned about their communities and quality of life whether infringed on by law enforcement or
cross-border flows originating from elsewhere others use these themes
as springboards to provide support for their own critiques of border policy
which is more broadly concerned with human rights, immigration, drug policy, and globalisation. Although the press or a national lobbying campaign
could have a wider reach and therefore greater impact, such approaches
require extensive time, networks, finances, and idealistic compromises to
yield results. As a result some regional and national interest groups have
joined alongside or partnered with individuals and groups in local communities in utilising graffiti and art on border barriers to express their message.
Certainly there is something very immediate, emotional, and compelling
about the dressing down of border policies themselves.59 In reference to

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the Israeli Separation Barrier, one man is reported to have remarked to the
artist Banksy that he made the wall look beautiful. Upon Banksy expressing
his appreciation for such support, the local individual continued, We dont
want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall, go home.60 This comment reflects
not only divergent approaches over engagement or confrontation, but also a
tension that outside entities even if sympathetic have taken it upon themselves to speak on behalf of border residents and perhaps even squeezing
out local voices in the process.61
When local costs and benefits are considered by a sympathetic outside
group, it is generally in the context of making an argument for national policies, a means to an end to change peoples perspective on national issues.
The consideration of the local scale in these situations adds poignancy, but
is ultimately ephemeral in focus the emphasis remains on summary statistics worthy of national consideration or examples that reinforce a particular
alternate national perspective (Figure 4). By contrast, a more fundamental rescaling of the issues by local interests comments less on the pros and cons of
border policies nationally than the social and psychological impact on local
communities (Figure 5). Both approaches utilise a personal and heartfelt
understanding of the issues and can appeal to another type of re-scaling as
well, one that usurps rather than downsizes a national perspective on the
basis of faith. Given the absence of a national political agenda, however,
such religious overtones seem to be more pronounced in the local version
of this landscape.

FIGURE 4 By drawing attention to an increase in deaths as migrants are diverted to more


dangerous terrain, the use of crosses in a high-traffic commercial neighborhood of Nogales,
Sonora challenges the exclusive national economic orientation of border policies with stark
personal examples, almost bypassing the local to re-scale at the level of the body. These
deaths may happen on the border, but the emphasis remains on a national discussion of
issues. (Feb. 2010)

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FIGURE 5 This single cross with a bilingual appeal for prayer is located in a low-traffic
residential neighborhood in Nogales, Arizona. Although the religious imagery is similar to
that in Figure 4, it is more local in origin and focus. This landscape at once captures the
human impact of deaths on the ground, the spiritual hereafter by which national policies and
actors will ultimately be judged, and a more cosmic but ultimately very personal re-scaling of
the issues for migrants, traffickers, and law enforcers alike. (Feb. 2010)

Authority and the rule of law, economic costs and benefits, the environment, the social impact of border policies, civil rights, and even the very
definition of community are framed differently at different levels. Whereas
national discussions may balance the positives and negatives of immigrant
labour or legalisation of drugs, for example, local discussions weigh the
benefits of cross-border shopping against being a through-way for undocumented people and other places drug problems against being ground zero
for a turf battle by narco-traffickers. Similarly, interior residents prioritise
national territory in defining community while border residents may prioritise proximity and the dynamics of hybridity. For border and cross-border
communities, local issues have international consequences and implications
that interior communities have the luxury of ignoring. For them the local
scale is inherently international in scope and the international scale is decidedly local in its impact. One of the goals of local residents is to affirm that
interconnectivity rather than deny it.

COUNTERING EXCLUSIVE NATIONAL CLAIMS TO THE


ARIZONA-SONORA BORDER
Under the contemporary nation-state system, central governments generally maintain claims to sovereignty and control at international borders, yet

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several efforts have countered such presumed exclusivity in recent years.


State-level initiatives such as Arizonas S.B. 1070 and private organisations
such as the Minutemen and the American Border Patrol have challenged the
central governments monopoly over the border. Even as these movements
push for stricter border controls they undercut exclusive federal authority to
define the problem by demanding to be a part of that effort. These movements do not necessarily, however, seek to shift discussion of border control
away from its national perspective which emphasises economic, social, and
political benefits of federal border policy to the country as a whole. For both
sets of actors, such benefits override the negative impacts of passing traffic
on and newly introduced divisions between border communities.62
In a very different way policy tours made by national political figures
also bring national policy down to its local manifestations. When such attention incorporates a local perspective it is often with the goal of finding a way
to make existing national policies more effective rather than fundamentally
challenge those policies and may or may not lead to mitigation or compensation for situations where costs and benefits weigh differently at the local scale
than they do for national interests. In part to keep the focus on the national
level in terms of central authority and pre-empt a re-scaling of border issues,
the US government has responded to concerns over federal border policy
with the creation of BORSTAR (the Border Patrols search, trauma, and rescue
unit), community relations programmes, and even lawsuits against state-level
initiatives such as Arizonas S.B. 1070.
In terms of re-scaling with graffiti and art, efforts are largely undertaken
by those within local communities and sympathetic outside groups. In San
Luis Ro Colorado where traffic waiting to cross into Arizona idles parallel to
the border, largely ornamental murals painted at every intersection63 created
a sense of place in the 1990s and 2000s that welcomed new traffic joining
the queue, punctuated the wait, and projected a positive visual image of the
border to the main thoroughfare two blocks south. Even as less elaborate
graffiti tags popped up in-between, murals at intersections dominated that
promoted local attractions and healthy lifestyles, honoured the local environment, portrayed the areas indigenous heritage, and acknowledged the
border as a transit point for migrants. In Agua Prieta, vegetation fulfils a similar role of beautification at intersections. Douglas/Agua Prieta otherwise has
very little graffiti or art on the border barriers given a wrought iron/picket
style of fencing originally designed to be more open and attractive than the
standard military landing mat used elsewhere in the late 1990s.
Communities also re-scale claims to space along Arizona-Sonora border
barriers by using it as a billboard of convenience. Such an approach is motivated less by a desire to cover up or confront the barriers than it is by the
commercial opportunities it presents. Ignoring the barrier in this way refuses
to give the fence legitimacy by engaging in an argument over border control at all. Such advertising can also be interpreted as celebrating freedom

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of movement for capital rather than lamenting the mobility problems border constraints pose for local residents and passing migrants. In many ways
advertising on border barriers focuses on the opportunities provided by
neoliberalism rather than its downsides. Originally less prolific than graffiti
or art, commercial messages have come to dominate the border barriers in
San Luis Ro Colorado over the last decade (Figures 6 and 7) at the expense
of much of the earlier artwork.
Commercial messages seem to have as much to do with convenience
and marketing as expressing a counter-claim to border space, but the message is also unmistakable that these advertisements and the products they
represent are at least as important a component to the border communities as the surfaces on which they are posted. Commercial messages are
therefore also an important means by which Mexican border communities
incrementally respond to the barriers by turning their own backs on US
border policy. Just as national US policy overwhelmed those local border
communities with insertion of the border barriers in the first place, they have
in turn scaled down the barriers by appropriating them for local commercial
usage unrelated to border law enforcement.
Mexican political advertisements also spring up from time to time on the
barriers. In the late 1990s in particular when Naco, Sonora, was an isolated
stronghold of the Partido Accin Nacional the partys acronym, candidates,
and trademark light blue and white colours dominated the barriers during
election season (Figure 8). Through these murals, political inclusion and

FIGURE 6 In this image commercialism merges with Mexican nationalism to appropriate the
border wall for a very particular artistic purpose advertising. As traffic approaches the portof-entry to cross into the U.S. drivers and passengers in San Luis Ro Colorado are urged to
purchase and consume Mexican products. Such advertisements shift attention away from U.S.
national border enforcement to Mexican national economic concerns. (Jan. 2004)

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Kenneth D. Madsen

FIGURE 7 As advertising expands in San Luis Ro Colorado it has reached well beyond the
downtown area and even to areas outside of town where the border wall is visible from
faster traffic on Mexican Highway 2 farther away. While specific Mexican local businesses are
most prominently featured, Arizona merchants are also beginning to advertise on these border
barriers. Daewoo Electronics has a presence in a local industrial park and an extensive series
of advertisements here oriented toward brand-name recognition. (Jan. 2013)

FIGURE 8 This now faded political advertisement in Naco, Sonora was an early method
of re-scaling that shifted attention away from U.S. national policies of exclusion to political
discussions relevant internally to Mexican communities. (Feb. 2010)

exclusion was re-defined on the border barriers by local entities and on


Mexican terms instead of by the United States the fence was both re-scaled
and appropriated for another countrys national interests! Interestingly such
advertisements are similarly situated as can be observed in San Luis Ro

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Colorado and Agua Prieta at street intersections that provide visibility from
larger thoroughfares several blocks away.
If in San Luis Ro Colorado and elsewhere graffiti, art, advertising, and
even landscaping serve as a series of decorative bandages on the scabs and
severed arteries of a community, in Nogales these features are more like
an autographed body cast proclaiming ones injury for all to see. Re-scaling
efforts in Nogales have appropriated the wall to display support for the local
community from family and friends. Nogales is the Arizona-Sonora border
community where creative works on border barriers are most influenced by
alternative regional and national voices, in large part driven by proximity to
nearby and largely politically liberal Tucson.
As a city with a strong bi-national history and greater cross-border
economy and social life than elsewhere, Nogales, Sonoras attempt at aestheticisation failed miserably by comparison to elsewhere. This was most
notable in an attempt to expand the tourist district to the border fence
area in the late 1990s. Leisure tourists were increasingly put off by news
about border violence, but the harshness of the solid border wall that was
put in place at that time did not help them feel re-assured either. The repurposed landing mat was claustrophobic and perhaps visitors felt unsafe
in the constrained back-alley environment it created their home was no
longer within visual distance. Furthermore, Sonoran residents themselves
lamented the loss of interaction with their neighbour. No amount of covering the wall with decorations or using it as a display case for tourist goods
made up for that. This was highlighted in a 2009 artwork by University of
Arizona professor Alfred Quiroz who bolted an 18-metre digital vinyl photograph of Nogales, Arizona side to the southern side of the fence, providing
the fleeting illusion that there was no barrier.64 Today the area at one time
designated for tourist-oriented vendors has transitioned to a bus stop making it an ideal placement for critical political commentary (Figure 9). Such
messages continue well beyond the bus staging areas to a residential neighbourhood to the west with modest through traffic (Figure 10).65 The primary
viewers of these messages are Mexican nationals. In terms of visitors to the
country, as the tourist gaze dried up on the Mexican side it was replaced
by a slow trickle of adventure tourists, political voyeurs, and anti-fence
activists.
It remains to be seen how new fence construction in Nogales and elsewhere will change future dynamics of graffiti, art, and advertising on border
barriers. New styles that restore a degree of cross-border visibility and reduce
the surface available for such uses are being developed with bollard-style and
other vertically spaced forms of fencing increasingly replacing solid stretches
of fence in urban areas. These new structures are designed to be more
durable, more difficult to climb or burrow under, and open up the view of
activity from across the border to facilitate US law enforcement. As a side
effect, however, there is less surface area on which to declare ones thoughts

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Kenneth D. Madsen

FIGURE 9 Bus stop along the border in Nogales, Sonora. The large text on the border barrier
proclaims in Spanish that walls turned on their side are bridges. (Feb. 2010)

FIGURE 10 Essentially an outdoor art gallery for artists critiquing the impact of U.S. border
policies and warning migrants about the risks of crossing, this stretch of border barrier facing
Nogales, Sonora as well as those areas shown in Figures 4 and 11 was removed in 2011
to make way for a more durable and transparent form of fencing. (Feb. 2010)

in a highly visible manner and attached artwork has the potential to be


more easily removed from the US side. This will not stop graffiti and messages of resistance or re-scaling from popping up, of course, but certainly
has implications in terms of visibility by others and may be problematic for
more formal art-work that could be seen as affecting the integrity of the

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FIGURE 11 In a stretch of the border along the Tohono Oodham Nation long before anything
other than a barbed wire fence existed to serve as a barrier here, a single signpost provided
space for an indigenous counter-claim to U.S. and Mexican sovereignty. In multiple languages,
it appears to say This is Oodham (Native American) land here. (June 2004)

structure or the field of vision. Indeed, graffiti can take hold in the smallest
of places (Figure 11). This reflects not only the cathartic power of resistance,
but more fundamentally the need for local individuals and communities to
make sense of policies and practices with distant origins as they intersect
with their lives. In the neoliberal era national and international issues often
co-opt or overshadow the local. Border barrier graffiti and graffiti art provide a way to directly engage with and talk back to distant policies that have
affected their lives. The enduring significance of graffiti and artwork is recognised in attempts to salvage artwork as old barriers are replaced by newer
designs66 and even in parallel rival landscapes that recognise its strength and
have adopted its form (Figure 12).

CONCLUSION
Whether engaging political commentary with graffiti and artwork to highlight the severity of US policy, covering the barriers up to improve the
local landscape, or ignoring its presence, as an alternative perspective for

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Kenneth D. Madsen

FIGURE 12 By commemorating their role in the construction of border barriers near Naco,
Arizona, National Guard units use border barrier art in a very different way. Their logos
demonstrate local-scale support from the interior, emphasize national solidarity, and serve to
pre-empt claims to re-scale the barriers as a local border issue. (May 2009 & Feb. 2010)

understanding border policies graffiti, art, and advertising on border barriers directly confront emblematic landscape manifestations of policy. While
graffiti and art are found largely on the Mexican side of the border barriers, rendering them largely inaccessible to targeted US politicians and
policymakers, such re-scaling efforts are more widely distributed on the web
and in print. In their original form these landscape-based messages are also
sometimes fleeting. Many of the works discussed in this paper are aging or
already replaced by new construction. Much of the material inscribed on the
border barriers is not particularly new in the debate over border policy, but
that is only one potential role such messages can serve. These creative works
also provide an outlet and focal point for the frustrations of those who are
politically marginalised.
Border barrier graffiti and art oblige one to incorporate a local perspective on national border policies. In the process claims to space and belonging
are re-scaled and actors are urged to re-evaluate what is important among
contradictory objectives and implications. These mediums incrementally contest and re-claim local communities from an acquiescent position of exclusive
domination by national US politics and policy to a shared space with both
national and local features. By attempting to situate national issues in a local
geographic context, the local is placed alongside the national as an indisputable element in contemporary border policy. It is at this juncture that
their different spatial points of view are most apparent and confrontation is
realised, setting the stage for potential resolution from a local perspective.
Border barrier graffiti, art, and advertising provide glimpses into how the
local situates itself in relation to national border policy and attempts to prioritise its concerns as an important component of national discussions on this
issue. The medium also provides insight into how national individuals and
groups utilise local perspectives in support of their own alternative national
or international agendas.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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I would like to thank those who gave feedback on earlier versions of this
paper, including Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary, Johan Schimanski, and Andr
Novaes. Thanks also to the innumerable border residents I have met and
corresponded with who helped contribute to this publication. Exploring
these landscapes in the field I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Daniel
D. Arreola, Patricia Lazo, Teresa Leal, and Sam Saunders. Internal research
funding from The Ohio State University at Newark is appreciated as well.

NOTES
1. K. D. Madsen, The Alignment of Local Borders, Territory, Politics, Governance 2/1 (2014) pp.
5271.
2. A. E. Martinez and S. W. Hardwick, Building Fences: Undocumented Immigration and Identity
in a Small Border Town, FOCUS on Geography 52/4 (2009) pp. 4855. For additional vivid examples of
the experiences of local individuals living along contemporary border barriers see M. Di Cintio, Walls:
Travels Along the Barricades (Fredericton, New Brunswick: Goose Lane Editions 2012).
3. T. A. Klug, The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Making of a BorderCrossing Culture on the USCanada Border, 18911941, American Review of Canadian Studies 40/3
(2010) p. 317; Madsen (note 1).
4. For example, J. Agnew, Still Trapped in Territory?, Geopolitics 15/4 (2010) pp. 779784; H.
Bauder, Toward a Critical Geography of the Border: Engaging the Dialectic of Practice and Meaning,
Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101/5 (2011) pp. 11261139.
5. . Vallet and C.-P. David, Introduction: The (Re)Building of the Wall in International Relations,
Journal of Borderlands Studies 27/2 (2012) pp. 111119; S. Rosire and R. Jones, Teichopolitics:
Re-Considering Globalisation Through the Role of Walls and Fences, Geopolitics 17/1 (2012)
pp. 217234.
6. K. D. Madsen, The U.S.-Mexico Border Fencescape Along the Arizona-Sonora Boundary, M.A.
thesis, Geography (Tempe: Arizona State University, 1999), pp. 6275. The re-purposed tarmac has been
the primary barrier format that attracts graffiti, art, and advertising. Today it is slowly disappearing given
more durable and high-tech forms of construction.
7. K. E. Till, J. Sundberg, W. Pullan, C. Psaltis, C. Makriyianni, R. Z. Celal, M. O. Samani, and L.
Dowler, Interventions in the Political Geographies of Walls, Political Geography 33 (2013) pp. 5365; R.
Jones, Border Walls: Security and the War on Terror in The United States, India, and Israel (London: Zed
Books 2012) pp. 4550.
8. S. Alatout., Walls as Technologies of Government: The Double Construction of Geographies of
Peace and Conflict in Israeli Politics, 2002Present, Annals of the Association of American Geographers
99/5 (2009) pp. 956968.
9. Rosire and Jones (note 5).
10. K. D. Madsen, Barriers of the US-Mexico Border as Landscapes of Domestic Political
Compromise, Cultural Geographies 18/4 (2011) pp. 547556; R. R. Sauders, Whose Place Is This Anyway?
The Israeli Separation Barrier, International Activists and Graffiti, Anthropology News 52/3 (2011) p. 16.
11. Such concerns, when expressed, would most likely occur behind the scenes through diplomatic
channels rather than through a public confrontation. The extent to which this occurs varies by national
and international context, of course.
12. I included barrier artwork in a category of fencing called improvement whereby local forces
made do with what they were dealt by the constructing central government to make border fences and
walls more aesthetic or pleasing to local residents. See Madsen (note 6).
13. For example, see photograph of Alfred Quirozs artwork displayed in Agua Prieta, Sonora,
in D. Cook and L. Jenshel, Our Walls, Ourselves, National Geographic (May 2007), available at
<http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/05/us-mexican-border/cook-jenshel-photography>, accessed

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30 Jan. 2014. Web publicity is even more prolific and enduring, see Billyjam, Guerrilla
Street Artist Ron English Takes Risk with Daring US/Mexico Border Art Prank, 7 April
2011, available at <http://www.amoeba.com/blog/2011/04/jamoeblog/guerrilla-street-artist-ron-englishtakes-risk-with-daring-us-mexico-border-art-prank.html>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014; Border Bedazzlers,
Bisbee, Arizona, <http://borderbedazzler.blogspot.com/> and <https://www.facebook.com/Border
Bedazzlers>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014; S. Nicol, Art Against the Wall, 28 Sep. 2008, available at <http://
notexasborderwall.blogspot.com/2008/09/art-against-wall.html>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014; Erase the Border,
<http://erasetheborder.com/>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014; T. Varela, Arte Pblico Yonke, Ciudad a Cuerpo,
18 Dec. 2012, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfHIN_cz8vg>, accessed 17 May 2013 (no longer
available, although the trailer can be found at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy9D2lDAJUM>,
accessed 30 Jan., 2014). A web search using <border wall graffiti>, <mexico border graffiti>, or similar
key terms will also yield a variety of images and commentary on this subject. The power of graffitis
wider visibility on the web in terms of social and political commentary is also well illustrated through the
work of Banksy, whose works have a strong internet presence well beyond the artists official website
<http://banksy.co.uk/>, accessed 4 Feb. 2013 (as of 30 Jan. 2014 one can only access the home page of
this site).
14. Madsen (note 6).
15. For an interpretation of graffiti that utilises a similar landscape lens see K. Whalen, Defacing
Kabul: An Iconography of Political Campaign Posters, Cultural Geographies 20/4 (2012) pp. 541549.
16. E. Brunet-Jailly, Borders, Borderlands and Theory: An Introduction, Geopolitics 16/1
(2011) pp. 16. See also E. Brunet-Jailly, Theorizing Borders: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, Geopolitics
10/4 (2005) pp. 633649.
17. Till et al. (note 7); Jones (note 7) pp. 2124, 110118.
18. P. Pallister-Wilkins, The Separation Wall: A Symbol of Power and a Site of Resistance?, Antipode
43/5 (2011) pp. 18511881.
19. N. Smith, Contours of a Spatialized Politics: Homeless Vehicles and the Production of
Geographic Scale, Social Text 22 (1992) pp. 5481.
20. T. J. Taylor, A Materialist Framework for Political Geography, Transactions of the Institute of
British Geographers NS 7/1 (1982) pp. 1534; S. A. Marston, J. P. Jones III, and K. Woodward, Human
Geography Without Scale, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 30/4 (2005) pp. 416432.
21. Marston et al. (note 20) pp. 424426.
22. Even local public hearings on these issues held in close physical proximity can be inaccessible
if an international border intervenes and serves as a deterrent to attendance and in this sense scale still
matters at borders.
23. In terms of chipping away at the local manifestations of production, Woodward et al. argue that
this is ultimately what resistance is about: K. Woodward, J. P. Jones III, and S. A. Marston, Of Eagles and
Flies: Orientations Toward the Site, Area 42/3 (2010) pp. 277278.
24. B. Mansfield, Beyond Rescaling: Reintegrating the National as a Dimension Of Scalar Relations,
Progress in Human Geography 29/4 (2005) pp. 458473.
25. Ibid. In her discussion of the continued relevance of the national, Mansfield briefly discusses
(p. 470) an example where actors sought to emphasise an environmental issues local or national aspects
to their advantage. It is in this sense that the present paper examines re-scaling as a form of political
action.
26. D. Hanauer, A Genre Approach to Graffiti at the Site of Prime Minister Rabins Assassination, in
D. Zissenzwein and D. Schers (eds.), Present and Future: Jewish Culture, Identity and Language (Tel-Aviv:
Tel-Aviv University Press 1999) p. 174.
27. Ibid., p. 175.
28. J. Ferrell, Crimes of Style: Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality (Boston: Northeastern
University Press 1997) p. 187; B. David and M. Wilson, Spaces of Resistance: Graffiti and Indigenous Place
Markings in the Early European Contact Period of Northern Australia in B. David and M. Wilson (eds.),
Inscribed Landscapes: Marking and Making Place (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 2002) p. 42.
29. T. Cresswell, In Place/Out of Place: Geography, Ideology, and Transgression (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press 1996), p. 61; T. Moreau and D. H. Alderman, Graffiti Hurts and the
Eradication of an Alternative Landscape Expression, Geographical Review 101/1 (2011) p. 108; see also
C. McAuliffe and K. Iveson, Art and Crime (and Other Things Besides. . .): Conceptualising Graffiti in the
City, Geography Compass 5/3 (2011) pp. 128143.

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30. D. Ley and R. Cybriwsky, Urban Graffiti as Territorial Markers, Annals of the Association of
American Geographers 64/4 (1974) pp. 491505. Appropriate to this article, street gangs used graffiti to
draw attention to their boundaries.
31. Moreau and Alderman (note 29).
32. Ley and Cybriwsk (note 30).
33. See R. Reisner, Graffiti: Two Thousand Years of Wall Writing (New York: Cowles Book Company
1971).
34. Moreau and Alderman (note 29); Ferrell (note 28), esp. ch. 4.
35. M. Halsey and B. Pederick, The Game of Fame: Mural, Graffiti, Erasure, City: Analysis of Urban
Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 14/1-2 (2010) p. 97.
36. Moreau and Alderman (note 29) p. 109; Halsey and Pederick (note 35); P. J. Craw, L. S.
Leland, Jr., M. G. Bussell, S. J. Munday, and K. Walsh, The Mural as Graffiti Deterrence, Environment
and Behavior 38/3 (2006) pp. 422434. In the case of memorial graffiti at the site of Yitzhak Rabins
assassination, its erasure was justified only with the establishment of a permanent memorial that documented a sampling of the original graffiti. See D. I. Hanauer, Silence, Voice and Erasure: Psychological
Embodiment in Graffiti at the Site of Prime Minister Rabins Assassination, The Arts in Psychotherapy 31/1
(2004) pp. 2935.
37. David and Wilson (note 28) p. 43; for more on the debate over graffiti as crime versus art see
also McAuliffe and Iveson (note 29).
38. M. Alvarez, La Pared que Habla: A Photo Essay about Art and Graffiti at the Border Fence in
Nogales, Sonora, Journal of the Southwest 50/4 (2008) p. 303.
39. Personal communication, Public Affairs Officer, Tucson Sector, U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, Sep. 2012.
40. Inspired by Alvarez (note 38) p. 286.
41. Hanauer, Silence, Voice and Erasure (note 36) p. 34; see also D. B. Brewer, Hip
Hop Graffiti Writers Evaluations of Strategies to Control Illegal Graffiti, Human Organization 51/2
(1992) pp. 188196.
42. R. W. Boldt and S. Paul, Building a Creative-Arts Therapy Group at a University Counseling
Center, Journal of College Student Psychotherapy 25/1 (2010) p. 41.
43. J. McMahan, An Interview with Edith Kramer, American Journal of Art Therapy 27/4
(1989) pp. 107114.
44. Iveson similarly argues that while commissioned murals provide a graffiti artist with more
legitimate visibility, they do so on someone elses terms. See K. Iveson, Publics and The City (Malden,
Massachusets: Blackwell 2007) p. 135.
45. A. Klingman, R. Shalev, and A. Pearlman, Graffiti: A Creative Means of Youth Coping with
Collective Trauma, The Arts in Psychotherapy 27/5 (2000) pp. 299307; Hanauer, Silence, Voice and
Erasure (note 36); Hanauer, A Genre Approach to Graffiti (note 26).
46. Hanauer, Silence, Voice and Erasure (note 36) p. 33.
47. For an interpretation of the breaching of the Berlin Wall as cathartic see German psychotherapist
J.-J. Maaz, Der Gefhlsstau: Psychogramm einer Gesellschaft (Berlin: Argon Verlag 1990) p. 152, as cited
in Di Cintio (note 2) pp. 1112. The phrase Hoping to heal the divide between Mexico and the United
States an inspired group of artists turn the border wall into a giant canvas (italics added) is specifically
used to describe a short documentary feature about the Border Bedazzlers, a group based in Bisbee,
Arizona, that started organising painting expeditions with Mexican children several years ago to paint
on the south side of the border wall outside of the two Nacos. See G. Jackson, Border Bedazzlers,
29 Jan. 2014, available at <http://vimeo.com/85302556>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014.
48. A. Szary, Walls and Border Art: The Politics of Art Display, Journal of Borderlands Studies 27/2
(2012) p. 215; see also Di Cintio (note 2) p. 124.
49. J. Peteet, The Writing on the Walls: The Graffiti of the Intifada, Cultural Anthropology 11/2
(1996) pp. 139159.
50. Jones (note 7) p. 180.
51. David and Wilson (note 28); see also R. Guarini, Introduction, in F. Alacevich and A. Alacevich,
The Lost Graffiti of Berlin: The Writing on the Wall (Turin: Gremeses International 1991) p. 11; Cresswell
(note 29); Di Cintio (note 2) pp. 122124.
52. N. Parker and N. Vaughan-Williams et al., Lines in the Sand? Towards an Agenda for Critical
Border Studies, Geopolitics 14/3 (2009) pp. 582587.

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53. R. English, Foreword, in W. Parry, Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine (Chicago:
Lawrence Hill Books 2010) pp. 67.
54. Guarini (note 51) p. 8.
55. Alvarez (note 38).
56. W. Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (New York: Zone Books 2010); A. Hidalgo, Spray
Paint on the Border Wall: Challenging the Waning Sovereignty of the Nation-State, Claremont Journal of
Religion 2/1 (2012); Jones (note 7) pp. 174180 also discusses the performative function of the barriers.
57. Pallister-Wilkins (note 18); Jones (note 7) pp. 179180.
58. In addition to Peteet (note 49), see A. Miklavcic, Slogans and Graffiti: Postmemory Among
Youth in the ItaloSlovenian Borderland, American Ethnologist 35/3 (2008) pp. 440453; Ley and
Cybriwsky (note 30); L. Nandrea, Graffiti Taught me Everything I know about Space: Urban Fronts
and Borders, Antipode 31/1 (1999); Alvarez (note 38).
59. After Alvarez (note 38) p. 284.
60. Sauders (note 10); see also W. Parry, Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine
(Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books 2010) p. 10.
61. For an example of divergent perspectives between Palestinian residents of the West Bank and
outside artists see Parry (note 60) p. 10; for concerns over non-Palestinian artists commodifying the barrier
in Israel and potential confusion of the barrier as the essence of oppression rather than a symbol of the
broader processes of bordering that it represents see Di Cintio (note 2) pp. 111112.
62. K. D. Madsen, Local Impacts of the Balloon Effect of Border Law Enforcement, Geopolitics
12/2 (2007) pp. 280298.
63. Many of the early murals in San Luis Ro Colorado were painted by schoolchildren as part of a
summer youth activity coordinated by a local pediatrician; see Madsen (note 6) p. 85.
64. C. Calamaio, Art Breaks Down Invisible Border, Border Beat: U.S. Border News, Insight
& Resources (17 March 2009), available at <http://borderbeat.net/culture/629-Art%20breaks%20down%
20%5C>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014.
65. This stretch of fencing is the focus of Alvarez (note 38).
66. For example, M. Regan, Barrier Rebuilt: As a New Wall Is Built through Nogales,
Well-Known Art Is Being Relocated or Destroyed, Tucson Weekly, 23 June 2011, available at
<http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/barrier-rebuilt/Content?oid=3028495>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014;
A. Florido, Old Border Fence To Get A Second Life, KPBS, 23 Jan. 2012, available at <http://
www.kpbs.org/news/2012/jan/23/old-border-fence-will-get-second-life/>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014; J. Clark,
Binational Effort Helps Rescue Border Fence Mural, Nogales International, 20 June 2011, available at <http://www.nogalesinternational.com/news/binational-effort-helps-rescue-border-fence-mural/
article_33b4783f-dd7d-559c-b084-6e6f0e0f242f.html>, accessed 30 Jan. 2014.