On the Margins — US Americans in a border town to Mexico



“This is a well written, experience-near ethnography of marginality in every sense of the word: Douglas is literally on the margins between the USA and Mexico, it is geographically marginal, economically marginal and culturally marginal in the US context. Wilm weaves a convincing and compelling picture of the precarious, reckless and often paradoxical lives led by people in Douglas.”
— Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology (Oslo/Amsterdam)

“Johannes tells about his findings in a vivid fashion at the same time as he in no way hides his own opinions about the various cirumstances.”
Rahima Parvin, Antropress

“Too engaged anthropology? … How much should anthropologists get involved in changing the lives of their informants?”
Lorenz Khazaleh, Antropologi.info

“Whether one agrees with Wilm politically or not, the theme is interesting … One will have to hope that Wilms book can increase the understanding for people who live in these marginalized areas.”
Niels S. Nielsen, Flensborg Avis

“In line with the tradition of sidetracked post graduate anthropological studies that gave us the lucid works of Carlos Castaneda, Mr. Wilm gives us an insightful, sometimes frightening but always entertaining, look at a small corner of the superpower seldom visited and largely ignored.

At first an outsider in a spiritually and economically bankrupt town in the throes of a major identity crisis, he quickly finds himself part of the bizarre scenery. Wilm ‘cruises for chicks’ at the local library, is rendered comatose by teenage play station addiction, and jumps into the tumultuous fray of the spring 2004 campaign season registering illegal immigrants to vote.

His chosen setting, Douglas, Arizona, with its population of 14,000 ‘including the inmates at the state penitentiary’, boasts a cast of characters worthy of a Tennessee Williams’ play or at least a half hour on Jerry Springer. And despite a repugnance for guns, jingoistic ultra-nationalism, and social injustice, Mr. Wilm forms an unlikely attachment to the place and its people. A must-read for serious anthropologists or the Americo-curious.”
— Joe Bavier, War Correspondent

Find it in a local library (2006 edition).

Find it in a local bookstore (2006 edition).

Download it (2011 edition).

Read online (2011 edition).