The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


Border Crossings

Twenty years ago, NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement — removed barriers to trade between the United States and Mexico, marking a more cooperative phase in what has often been a contentious relationship over the centuries. In this episode, Peter, Ed, and Brian delve into the complexities of that relationship and offer a broader take on American history that looks beyond our national boundaries.

In terms of national identity, territory, and citizenship, the United States has often defined itself in opposition to its southern neighbor. But the Guys uncover moments of convergence too: like the twin crises in 1861 – Confederate secession in the US and European invasion in Mexico – which sparked talk of American “sister republics,” united in opposition to despotism. So how have these two countries shaped each other – whether in conflict and cooperation? What kinds of borders – political, cultural, or economic — have been built and dismantled and rebuilt over the years? And where does the US-Mexico relationship stand today?