ABSTRACT. This article examines the transformations in the cultural sphere of Tijuana, one of Mexico's largest and fastest growing cities, in order to emphasise the border as a crucial site of nation-building in northern Mexico. I propose that cultural and intellectual actors, through particular sites, are changing the way the city is positioned in relation to the national political space of Mexico. Two institutions are considered specifically, both of which are integral to the propagation of an array of representations of Tijuana. In looking to articulations of nationhood and practices of knowledge production, this article delineates how urban identities reclaim and reconfigure key aspects of national identity in a region heretofore unrecognised as central to the creation of a national imaginary.