Book launch “Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”

By Jonathan Alderman

Authors: Catherine Whittaker, Eveline Dürr, Jonathan Alderman, Carolin Luiprecht

Artivist: Nanzi Muro

Werkstatt-galerie, 20 April 2023

Zentnerstraße 3, 80798 Munich

The book “Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”, jointly authored by Catherine Whittaker, Eveline Dürr, Jonathan Alderman and Carolin Luiprecht as part of project B06 of the CRC 1369 “Cultures of Vigilance” at LMU Munich was successfully launched at the Werkstatt gallery on 20 April 2023. The book launch, which was introduced by Christiane Brenner (project C07), was attended by around forty people, who enjoyed the discussion of the book as well as the reception with food and drink. Each author discussed the main themes of the book in relation to the chapters that they were most responsible for writing. Together, they highlighted the intersectional nature of the racism and discrimination that people living in the in-between spaces of the borderlands face on a daily basis and the watchful practices that they develop as a result. The book launch was also the vernissage for an exhibition by Nanzi Muro, a San Diego-based artivist who had collaborated with the authors of the book by providing art that accompanies each chapter.

From left to right: Nanzi Muro, Catherine Whittaker, Jonathan Alderman, Nele Guderian, Eveline Dürr, Carolin Luiprecht

Nanzi Muro explained how she came to work with the book’s authors and how she relates to the themes of the book through her own experiences as a fronteriza whose art articulates the daily struggles of people in borderland spaces against racism and discrimination. Nanzi’s exhibition titled “El Chaparral: From Tijuana through San Diego to Munich, Germany” was displayed within two rooms of the gallery. The first showed all of the artwork from the book, while the second room was an installation featuring photographic artwork that displayed the lives of people in a migrant camp attempting to cross the border between Tijuana and San Diego. A representation of the migrant camp itself was also created, through objects such as clothes hanging from a washing line. The pictures in the El Chaparral exhibition show the precarious conditions in an encampment that formed in early 2021 as asylum seekers awaited a change in U.S. border policy to request asylum and seek a better life. The migrants spent nearly a year in the camp near the border before Mexican officials dismantled it on 6 February 2022.

Artwork by Nanzi Muro, accompanying the book “Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands” (photo credit: Jonathan Alderman)
A representation of a migrant camp in Tijuana (photo credit: Jonathan Alderman)

Part of the exhibition shows Casa Lulu and Casa de los Haitiano in Reynosa, Mexico. These places, managed by Lulu and her husband out of the goodness of their hearts, provide a safe haven for, and offer a range of services to, torture victims, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, single moms, persons with chronic illnesses, asylum seekers, and refugees. Another part of the exhibition shows Friendship Park, a bi-national park which can be reached from the U.S. via California’s Border Field State Park or from México via Playas de Tijuana, a beach-front neighborhood in Tijuana. Although Friendship Park is open, easy to get to, and used happily by many people in México, in recent years, San Diego Border Patrol officials have made it difficult for people to get to Friendship Park from the U.S. side. They closed the Park in February 2020, and have not announced when it will reopen. As is shown in the book, the border shapes lifeworlds in San Diego and Tijuana. Opening and closing the border and the surveillance around it, impacts the individuals living around it, leading them to develop watchful lives.

A display about Friendship Park (photo credit: Jonathan Alderman)

Cite this article as: Jonathan Alderman, “Book launch ‘Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands’” in: Vigilanzkulturen, 11/05/2023,

Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
Blogredaktion (2023, 11. Mai). Book launch “Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands” Vigilanzkulturen. Abgerufen am 18. Juni 2024, von

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