© 2020

Tales from the Desert Borderland


Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literary Anthropology book series (PSLA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxvii
  2. Lawrence J. Taylor
    Pages 1-11
  3. Lawrence J. Taylor
    Pages 13-34
  4. Lawrence J. Taylor
    Pages 35-51
  5. Lawrence J. Taylor
    Pages 53-73
  6. Lawrence J. Taylor
    Pages 75-102
  7. Lawrence J. Taylor
    Pages 103-129
  8. Lawrence J. Taylor
    Pages 131-149
  9. Lawrence J. Taylor
    Pages 151-167

About this book


Taylor brings an ethnographer’s eye, ear, and many years of experience to this fictional portrait of life along the US/Mexico desert border. In these linked short stories, readers are taken on a wild ride from San Diego to Nogales, into Mexican and Chicano neighborhoods, failed spas and defunct mining towns, rambling Native American reservations and besieged Wildlife Refuges. Along the way they will share the conflicts, calamities, and occasional triumph of an engaging cast of characters. While these tales treat such familiar border themes as drug- and people-smuggling or hybrid and conflicting cultures and identities, they do so with a literary flair that revels in the rich diversity of border life as well as in its ambiguity, ambivalence, irony and often unexpected humor.


borderlands US/Mexico Border ethnographic fiction short stories short fiction crossing the border power of landscape moral geographies identity migration

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Maynooth UniversityCo. KildareIreland

About the authors

Lawrence J. Taylor is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Maynooth University, Ireland. The author of classic ethnographies Dutchmen on the Bay and Occasions of Faith, Taylor has been working and writing on the US/Mexico border since the mid-1990s, publishing first The Road to Mexico (1997), followed by the prize-winning account of liminal border lives, Tunnel Kids (2001) and Ambos Nogales: Intimate Portraits of the US/Mexico Border  (2002). As in this volume, each of these books was produced in collaboration with artist Maeve Hickey.     

Bibliographic information


“If I were able to capture what we know to be true of the border region as well as Lawrence Taylor has done in this work, I would be famous. Taylor’s men and women are Mexicans and Anglos and others at their best and worst and everything in the middle—as we are all—but Taylor has really pulled it off with care, love, affection, and respect. Bravo!”

—Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez, Regents’ Professor and Presidential Motorola Professor of Neighborhood Revitalization, Arizona State University, USA 

“In Taylor’s Tales from the Desert Borderland, the U.S.-Mexico borderline exists, but everyday people and their extraordinary lives shape this engaging, stimulating and every so often humorous literary geography. From ethnographic fiction to memoir, to travel log and creative non-fiction, and enhanced by Hickey’s evocative and enigmatic photography, Tales crosses numerous literary boundaries, resulting in highly-nuanced portrayals of the past and present western borderlands, and which just might lead to possibilities for a more humane future of the region.”

—Celeste González de Bustamante, Associate Professor of Journalism, University of Arizona, USA

“A prolific and creative scholar, Taylor has produced a series of articles as well as volumes that resonate with many audiences. My favorite is Tunnel Kids, a book I used often and to great effect in years of introductory anthropology courses. With this collection he has brought the full powers of his story telling ability to bear on a topic he has come to know through prolonged contact and inquiry with people and place.”

—Jeffrey Cole, Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Anthropology, Connecticut College, USA