American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



Through a sustained engagement with the theoretical work of Roland Barthes and Frantz Fanon, this thesis traces the complicated lines of connection linking photography, racial difference, spectatorship, and self-making in Tijuana's dumps and irregular settlements. Understanding photography as a space and form of life and social death, this thesis explores the photographic work of two photographers in Tijuana that pictures the lives of those living in poverty: John Leuders-Booth and Ingrid Hernandez. Of these photographic projects, the thesis asks: How does the spectatorial relationship that is triggered by a photograph also initiate a relationship of value, where one side of the formula of observation "matters" and the other side necessarily doesn't? The thesis, then, ultimately argues that while Lueders-Booth's photographs serve as the completion or the realization of the white spectator's power of self-making, Hernandez's work instead unsettles this type of spectatorship by refusing to capitulate to the demands of white self-making through the body of the racialized "other." Rather than quick identification, which serves to fortify the subjectivity of the spectator, Hernandez's photographic work suspends or delays the act of spectatorship. As well, the thesis speculates about the city of Tijuana's significance insofar as it evidences modes of living, values, and forms that remain un-indexed by dominant logics.




Tijuana, Photography, Race, Spectatorship

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Advisor

Schreiber, Rebecca

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tiongson, Antonio Jr.

Second Committee Member

Vaquera-Vasquez, Santiago

Third Committee Member

Carr, John