Department or Program

Environmental Studies


In this thesis I explore conceptual relationships between garbage dumps and borders. I review our current academic understanding of borders and dumps including the historical, social and political processes under which they operate. Adopting an interpretive anthropological approach to the study of borders and dumps, I investigate the social phenomena within each space. I draw upon the work of symbolic anthropologists, namely Clifford Geertz, Mary Douglass and Victor Turner, to analyze Tirabichi, an illegal waste transfer station located in Nogales, Sonora, three miles south of the US-Mexico border. I show that dumps and borders are liminal spaces where human and material “wastes” are disposed. Using over two months of ethnographic research conducted in Tirabichi, I investigate the ways in which material and people interact and move within and between the dump and the border. I conclude by comparing the differences and similarities between Tirabichi and the US-Mexico border and contend that understanding this relationship may lead to creative solutions for the problems that borders and dumps pose.

Level of Access

Restricted: Archival Copy [No Access]

First Advisor

Danforth, Loring

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file