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The Border at El Paso: Mexican and Anglo Interactions During The Early History of an Urban Center

Edward M. Staski


Some scholars may think that archaeologists have little to say about the social interactions which have occurred along the border between Mexico and the United States. Such a conclusion is expectable, given that most archaeology deals with prehistoric time periods and humans living well before either country existed as we know them today. Yet, archaeology has changed dramatically during the last few decades. Peoples and processes of recent, historical times are presently considered most appropriate subjects of study. By example, this paper demonstrates just how archaeologists can add to the overall understanding of events along the international boundary.

The projects under consideration were conducted in downtown El Paso, a fact that makes necessary additional discussion regarding the potentials of archaeology. A widespread lack of optimism concerning urban archaeology -- archaeological research conducted in urban settings -- has persisted until quite recently, even among many professionals within the discipline. This perceived lack of promise has been based on the untested assumption that the processes of urbanization are overwhelmingly destructive to the archaeological record. Since the integrity of the urban subsurface was often times uncritically evaluated as poor, it followed that many predictive models for urban areas called for less rigorous investigations in those regions of greater urban development. This lack of field investigation, in turn, perpetuated the untested assumption.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229