Publication Date

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Anne M. Todd


borders, illegal, immigrants, undoumented

Subject Areas



Discussing a border's location, how it functions, and who is allowed to cross it can quickly give rise to heated arguments that at times escalate to violent disputes. In order to better understand the tension surrounding borders, a mediated-rhetorical critique of National Geographic's television show Border Wars was conducted. Performing this critique enables an understanding of the rhetorical strategies the show employs to construct and reify the Mexico/U.S. border, keep out outlaw discourse from influencing the civic imaginary, and answer the question, "Is there an end in sight?" This thesis will specifically address these questions: What rhetorical strategies does Border Wars use to construct the civic imaginary? What strategies does Border Wars use to construct and reify borders? What rhetorical strategies does Border Wars use to keep outlaw discourse from becoming a part of the dominant discourse? The results of my study yielded a much more complex border than expected. The civic imaginary, if constantly critiqued and reshaped, can help alleviate the tensions along the border. Border Wars was not created by the civic imaginary, but the show does help maintain it. Without ordering apparatuses, such as Border Wars, the civic imaginary would collapse and outlaw logic would be allowed in forever changing the border and the people it contains.