The Borderlands Forum

The Borderlands Forum seeks to promote understanding and appreciation of the Borderlands as a cross-cultural, bi-national resource. TBF will provide focus, energy, and quality to BCA’s educational mission. We want to be a clear, strong voice advocating mutual respect for the cultural tradition in the U.S. and Mexico and for moderating xenophobia and racism.

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A History of Sonora  [2 session course]

The aim of this two session course is to provide Arizonans with a basic understanding of our neighboring Mexican state of Sonora´s history. Topics to be covered include the multiple indigenous groups of Sonora, the colonial experience during the Viceroyalty, the Jesuit order and their expulsion, the history of mining/ranching, the Porfiriato, and the Mexican Revolutions connections to Sonora.

Moorish Legacies in the American Southwest and North of Mexico 

The purpose of this class is to identify certain elements of the Islamic period of Medieval Spain (711-1492) within the context of colonial experience in northern New Spain (1521-1821). These elements are multiple Iberian-Moorish legacies and are identified in an overview of multiple aspects of colonial frontier social, political, military, and economic life. This is a regional comparison designed to acknowledge the earlier Islamic Iberian origins of aspects that ran its cultural currents into the north of colonial New Spain. Although this is not an exhaustive discussion of the medieval Moorish cultural undercurrent that made its way to the colonial northern frontier of New Spain, present day Northern Mexico and the American Southwest, key vestigial examples will be discussed.

Beyond Day of the Dead

Join Blyth and Russ Carpenter for a lively class on the famous Calavera art we see during the Day of the Dead. This bold, imaginative art form is an integral part of Mexican culture and is becoming important in American culture as well. The class will be supported by printed handouts, multimedia presentations, and class discussion.

Theater in the Barn: “Sin Nombre”

Join this unusual class led by Blyth and Russ Carpenter, featuring the movie “Sin Nombre,” which won prizes at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival for directing and cinematography. The harrowing stories of desperate people fleeing economic destitution and gang violence in Central America are as topical today as they were at the time the movie was made. The movie will be accompanied by printed handouts and class discussion.

Travel as a Political Act 

Well-known travel guide Rick Steves of PBS fame wrote a book with this title a few years back. In it, he suggests that that travel can shape our world-view and make us better citizens. In this class we’ll work with his insights to see how travel can do more than entertain us; it can engage us in a rich and important dialogue about how to live more fully and deeply in the global context. [Note: The word “political” here is used in the broadest sense of the word — how societies are organized – rather than more narrowly as “partisan.” BCA is a non-partisan organization.]

How to Take Your Photos from Good to Great: Instruction & Photo Shoot

The aim of this class is to offer guidance to help you improve your photography skills AND to provide you with a unique setting to practice what you’ve learned. Professional photographer Monica Rojas is your guide (see her website and the setting is the Holler-Saunders home in Nogales, Arizona, with its stunning collection of Spanish Colonial artwork. Monica will help give instruction in the principles of good beginner and intermediate photography, tailoring her presentation to the specifics of your DSLR camera. This promises to be a friendly, hands on experience in a unique setting with practical results. A full itinerary including equipment list will be emailed as we approach the event date. Questions about the class can be addressed to Monica at

Mexico’s Economy at a Glance 

Many Americans know very little about Mexico’s economy, even as conversations about trade and tariffs fill the headlines. This class offers a brief but comprehensive up-to-date look at the state of Mexico’s economy including an overview of various economic sectors (agricultural, mining, industrial, service); the skill level and performance of the workforce; Mexico’s place in the global economy; emerging developments and continuing challenges. A member of the Mexican Consulate staff will serve as instructor/resource.

The Old Pueblo: A Historical and Cultural Overview of Sonoran Tucson

This course aims provide an overview of the pre-statehood (pre-1912) epoch of Tucson´s history and culture.  The municipal history will include the original Tohono O’odham settlements of the era, the Apache dynamic, the frontier Spanish colonial institutions of presidio and mission, Mexican Tucson, Gadsden Purchase, and territorial era. This classroom session will be followed by a guided architectural tour through Tucson’s historic quarter, the Barrio Viejo to see the last remaining buildings representative of the adobe Sonoran row house tradition.