Department of Geography

College of Liberal Arts

California State University, Long Beach


Abstracts of Conference Presentations


Dr. James R. Curtis


"East L.A. Moves South" to the Association of American Geographers meeting in Los Angeles in March, 2002.

This study examines the evolving hierarchy of Latino, especially Mexican, urban places in Los Angeles. Based on a variety of data, including demographic, economic, political and cultural, it contends that the core of Mexican Los Angeles has shifted from East L.A. to the old industrial corridor south of downtown, focusing on the city of Hungington Park. The processes and consequences of this move are considered, particularly contrasts in the built environment between East L.A. and Huntington Park.

Dr. Curtis presented a paper:

"Las Plazas of Manaus, Brazil" to the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers meeting in Benicà;ssim/Castelló, Spain, in June 2001.

This study examines the plazas of Manaus, Brazil. It offers a 7-fold typology of contemporary plazas based on prevailing function and landscape character. Historical linkages with Portuguese and French colonial influences are explored.

He presented a paper, of which he is the primary co-author (with alumna Aimée R. Mindes):

"Urban Structure in Ensenada and La Paz, Mexico" to the Association of American Geographers meeting in New York City in late February and early March.

Based on detailed land use surveys, this study systematically compares the urban structure of Ensenada and La Paz, the third and fourth largest cities in Baja California. Both urban centers share common elements conducive to comparative analysis, including similarity in age, population size, growth rates, locational attributes, as well as economic characteristics. The proportional composition of land use activities, their intracity distributions, and the distinguishing landscape character of the two cities are compared and contrasted. How the cities' internal structure conforms to the most widely accepted morphological models that have been generated to depict Latin American and Mexican border city structure is assessed. Preliminary findings indicate that significant differences exist between the two cities, especially in tourist, commercial, and industrial land uses.

Dr. Curtis also presented:

"Ensenada: A Mexican Border Town?" to the American Studies Association, Montréal, October 1999.

Based on a variety of cultural, economic, social, and spatial factors, including the composition and location of landuse activities, it is widely contended that the Mexican border cities form a distinct subset of Mexican urban centers. In short, they are considered to be different than cities in the interior of the country. Although some scholars have argued that the border towns may not be as different as many have suggested, if that contention is nonetheless assumed to be even partially correct, an intriguing set of questions arise: Are border cities only those that directly front the international boundary? Or do "border cities" exist some distance south of the boundary? In the absence of any systematic research on the subject, most would likely support the notion that border cities need not abut the boundary per se. A case in point is the city of Ensenada in Baja California. Although located some 80 miles south of the border crossing at Tijuana, since at least the days of Prohibition in the United States (1918-1933), Ensenada has been universally considered a border town. In the popular media, it has been portrayed most often as a smaller, cleaner, safer, waterfront version of Tijuana, a place to go for "border town excitement" without all the crowds, hassles, and crimes associated with that city. This study examines the above questions, focusing specifically on Ensenada both historically and at the present. It draws heavily upon the results of a detailed landuse analysis of the city, which is compared to the most widely accepted model of Mexican border city urban structure. It concludes that, despite the long-standing importance of tourism to the economy and landscape of the city, Ensenada is not now and has never been a border town as such places are most commonly defined.


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Last revised: 10/28/03