A Tale of Two Families: The Mutual Construction of ‘Anglo’ and Mexican Ethnicities Along the US–Mexico Border



In the American Southwest and along the US–Mexico border, ‘Anglos’ and Mexicans are often viewed as the quintessential ‘others’. This ethnographic study problematises the Anglo-Mexican opposition with ethnographic data from interviews with a Mexican farmworker family and an ‘Anglo’ farmer family of the EI Paso Lower Valley. I argue that ‘Anglo’ hegemony is not based exclusively on cultural separation but often involves hybridity (including ‘Mexicanisation’) and patron-client relations entailing ‘benevolent’ paternalism. I show how the concept of ‘Anglo’ is a contested identity constructed through interactions between Mexicans and Euroamericans. Through this study of border crossings in situations of asymmetrical power relations, I advocate a ‘complicit’ anthropology that presents competing ethnic groups in their full complexity rather than as stereotypes or caricatures of their ‘others.’