Bridging Hazards Geography and Political Geography: A Borderland Vulnerability Framework with a Case Study Along the United States-Mexico Border




Bean, Lydia Lorraine

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This dissertation presents a borderland vulnerability conceptual framework that illustrates possible relationships between human vulnerability and the border factors of asymmetry/symmetry, quantity of interaction, and quality of interaction under economic, political, and socio-cultural contexts. This conceptual framework is based on the theories and concepts of spatial interaction, world systems, gateways, globalization, and transboundary regionalism. The methodology involves creation of a model and a multidimensional matrix combining the border factors to create twenty-seven possible scenarios predicting ranges of vulnerability. Additionally, the author identifies criteria and selected indicators for operationalizing border factors and assessing levels of vulnerability. Utilizing the selected indicators and criteria, the dissertation evaluates the predictions made by the conceptual framework concerning the U.S.-Mexico border region's scenario. Results indicate that the U.S.-Mexico border region exhibits an asymmetrical relationship favoring the United States with a high quantity but medium quality of interaction. Vulnerability levels for Mexico, the United States, and their shared border region exists as a progressive four-step ladder with lowest levels being recorded for the United States proper. Increasing levels of vulnerability exist on the United States side of the border region with even higher levels on the Mexico side and highest levels for the country of Mexico as predicted by the framework. However, the border region is not homogeneous; there are pockets of enhanced opportunity to reduce vulnerability along the border in some gateways that are associated with higher levels of quality interaction, thus shifting vulnerability to more marginalized places. Future cases studies of world border regions will inform the conceptual framework by providing empirical evidence as to the extent to which vulnerability can accurately be predicted within the context of the conceptual framework.



vulnerability, borders, conceptual framework, U.S.-Mexico border region, hazardous geographic environments, human ecology, boundaries


Bean, L.L. (2002). Bridging hazards geography and political geography: a borderland vulnerability framework with a case study along the United States-Mexico border (Unpublished dissertation). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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