Undocumented: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail

Jason De León, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Weatherhead Resident Scholar, SAR

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

In the mid-1990s, the US government implemented an immigration enforcement strategy along the southern border known as Prevention through Deterrence. This strategy increased security in unauthorized crossing areas surrounding urban ports of entry in an attempt to shift undocumented migration towards remote border regions such as the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, where security is less intense but crossing conditions are more difficult. Since 2009, De Leon has directed the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a long-term anthropological analysis of clandestine border crossings between Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona that uses a combination of ethnographic, archaeological, and forensic research to understand this violent social process. In this presentation, De Leon outlines his current book project, which draws on theories of materiality, nonhuman actors, and taphonomy to improve our understanding of how people prepare for crossings; the diverse ways that migrants experience the desert; and what migrant deaths and the post-mortem lives of their corpses communicate about immigration enforcement and state-crafted violence.

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