Jason De León Lecture

Jason De León, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan will present a lecture titled:

"Citizenship, Materiality, and Necroviolence along the U.S.-Mexico Border: Recent Research from the Undocumented Migration Project"


Each year hundreds of thousands of people attempt to enter the United States from Mexico without authorization through various means including crossing the Sonoran Desert of Arizona on foot or using false identification at ports of entry. During this process people actively construct, contest, and obfuscate a multiplicity of identities through various forms of material culture including clothing, identification paperwork (or lack thereof), and other items. Using a combination of ethnographic work conducted at migrant shelters in Mexico and archaeological research in the deserts of Arizona, I examine what the objects that people carry with them across the border can tell us about how they prepare for this process and how federal enforcement policies have shaped perceptions of migrant lives and deaths. I also highlight recent taphonomic work focused on understanding what happens to the bodies of deceased migrants in the desert.  In this presentation I posit that the notions of citizenship and "state of exception" along the U.S.-Mexico border play crucial roles in the construction, maintenance, and obfuscation of various types of violence including a form that occurs post-mortem.