Thin Edge of Barbwire: Pedagogical Strategies Against Borders

How to Cite

Schultz, H. (2018). Thin Edge of Barbwire: Pedagogical Strategies Against Borders. Radical Teacher, 111, 118–125.


“Thin Edge of Barbwire,” a reference to Gloria Anzaldúa’s poetry, doubles as the title of this paper and a collaborative art project undertaken by university art students resulting in the creation of a 30’ wall. This project was, in effect, a response to the Trump presidency and students’ fear of increased violence on the border. This paper describes in detail the month-long unit that included readings, dialog, and creative responses to recent histories of the border and students’ personal relationship to violence on the border. I use the project as a case study to consider antiracist pedagogies, confronting white-supremacy in the classroom, and successes and failures of the project. Finally, I reflect broadly on the role of creative and artistic response to political crises.


Cody R. Permenter, "Bleach Balloons Launched at Minority Students at University of Texas," Huffington Post. October 4, 2012.

Nathan Berner & Wells Dunbar, "A Brief History of Student Conservatives' 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant Games'," KUT Austin's NPR Station. November 9, 2013.

Cassandra Jaramillo & Mikaela Cannizzo, "UT students in racially motivated assault appeal university disciplinary process," Daily Texan. April, 14, 2016.

Meredith Kolodner, "Black Students Are being Shut out of Top Public Universities," Huffington Post. December 18, 2016.

Calily Bien, "Anti-Muslim, immigration fliers found on UT campus," KXAN. February 13, 2017.

Katherine Mangan, "Lecturer's Critique of Whiteness Crossed the Line Into Harassment, State Investigation Finds," The Chronicle of Higher Education. January 7, 2018.

bell hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation, (Boston: South End Press, 1992). 167-168

Joy James, Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996). 194-197.

Paula Ioanide, The Emotional Politics of Racism: How Feelings Trump Facts in an Era of Colorblindness, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015).

Todd Miller, "The Border Wall Already Exists," Jacobin. August 23, 2016.

Colin Schultz, "Nearly 6,000 Migrants Have Died Along the Mexico-U.S. Border Since 2000," Smithsonian Magazine. October 1, 2014.

Serena Marshall, "Obama has Deported More People Than Any Other President," ABC News. August 29, 2016.

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera, (San Francisco: Spinsters, 1987). 1-13.

Artist's website:

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003). 203-204.

Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa (eds.), This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, (Albany: SUNY Press, 2015) 219-220.

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