By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 22, 2023.
“Borders are stupid.”
According to University of Lethbridge history professor Sheila McManus who has spent the last 25+ years studying the history, complexities, and social impact of the borderlands of the North American west, including the 49th parallel and the United States/Mexico border.
“They are these imaginary lines, they have made them up, and then we get people to believe in them by attaching concepts like sovereignty and national identities onto them,” McManus explains.
On Thursday evening, McManus will be speaking on the topic as part of the Public Professor Series put on by the university and held at the Sandman Signature Lodge on Scenic Dr. in Lethbridge.
McManus says they will be drawing on history to lay out three of the biggest lies surrounding borders.
“The first big lie is that they are old, and they are real,” says McManus. “The second lie is that they’re probably doing a good job for you, like they’re probably doing something that you want them to be doing. And the third lie is that you can’t question them because they are so weighted with that intersection of sovereignty and nationalism.”
The author of books on the subject, McManus’ first text, ‘The Line which Separates: Race, Gender and the Making of the Alberta-Montana Borderlands,’ was released in 2005 and focuses specifically on the aforementioned area, including the impact that border has had and continues to have on the people of Blackfoot Nation as a region once freely accessible with its own unique ecology has been restricted by the border dividing Canada and the United States.
More recently, McManus published, ‘Both Sides Now: Writing the Edges of the North American West.’ Released in 2022, the book looks at the commonalities and differences of the northern and southern borders of the United States, including an analysis of the function and impact of these invisible dividers.
McManus’ lecture ‘Borders are Stupid’ is free to attend and open to the public.
The event will run from 7 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday at be held at the Sandman Signature Lethbridge Lodge.