top of page


Without a doubt, the favourite intellectual sport of this peculiar city is Tijuanology (or Tijuanologies, to be precise). It's hard not to talk about such an exhilarating place. Somehow you have to accommodate it in your head. It is repeated everywhere: Tijuana talks Tijuana. The city has become its own brand, and its representation is business, profession, obsession, hobby and debate.

"Thinking is for losers," says Bart Simpson, and Tijuana is a city obsessed with work. Even its best writers and artists are prolific enough to match the dizzying speed of the city. Here, everyone is in a hurry, with one or two or three jobs. Even criminals excel in terms of performance. Here, people come to win, not to lose, although Tijuana is as cruel as it is seductive, and many do lose and get lost. Here, thinking is a luxury, but also a necessity.

The Dictionary was made by philosophy and communication students from the UABC, using the astonishing "Student Photography Archive" at the Humanities Faculty, where squads of documentary photographers are set loose in a city that grows a block a day each semester.

The Tijuana Philosophical Dictionary was produced in 2010, just as the city was emerging (and for the record, it has not yet emerged) from a resurgence of violence that has flooded the entire country and that had its most extreme moment here between 2006 and 2008. We could hear shoot-outs at the university classrooms and there was not a day that some news did not make us think if staying in the city was a sound idea.

However, there was nothing that bothered me more than the people who said "we must improve the image of Tijuana." It still seems irresponsible and naive to me. There is no need to improve the image of Tijuana. it is Tijuana itself must be improved. And to do it, you have to see it, you have to walk it. If at any point the texts and images in the Dictionary coincide, it is in the paradoxical quality of the city: the contradictions appear raw. There are several obvious ones, such as the one formed by the US and Mexico, wealth and poverty, or, as teacher Víctor Soto says, innovative against inhaler Tijuana. There are so many so pressing paradoxes copulating and criss-crossing the city that it is difficult to take binary positions. For that reason, this is a multivocal, group-building exercise.

Also, I believe, it is an exercise of love, of one of those romances that hurt and that sometimes do not lead to anything nice. I am impressed by the passion and enthusiasm with which Tijuana is commented on and photographed. Although the city seems indolent and almost oblivious to any social movement other than shopping, it is difficult for many to be indifferent to it. It provokes strange affairs. It makes you feel weird. It makes you think weird.

The Tijuana Philosophical Dictionary is misleading. It is trans-disciplinary. It has more images than words. It doesn't even have an alphabetical order. It dirties philosophy. The ideas were generated collectively, and go beyond the intentions of the individual authors. It is radically incomplete. It does not define; divert.

Tijuana makes you think. With the eyes, with letters, with words, with photographic and film cameras, with the hands, with the feet.

A downloadable interactive with all the images from the Dictionary and various essays will be published shortly.

bottom of page