Tag Archives: migration

On Dangerous Ground: Taphonomy, Necroviolence, and the Politics of Migrant Death in the Arizona Desert

Jason de León (University of Michigan)
12/01/2014

In the mid-90s, the U.S. federal 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, I have directed the Undocumented Migration Project, 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 I focus on the types of deaths that migrants experience during border crossings, the decomposition of their corpses, and the impacts that these desert fatalities have on families. Drawing on the archaeological concept of taphonomy (i.e., the analysis of the phenomena that impact the remains of biological organisms at the time of and after death), I argue that the post-mortem treatment of migrant bodies is part of a larger state project that uses nature as a weapon to maintain boundary control. I label this post-mortem treatment necroviolence and aim to show its direct connection to the American government’s problematic construction of undocumented people as expendable lives.

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Moroccan Immigrant Childhoods in Spain: The Everyday Politics of Belonging

Inmaculada García-Sánchez (Temple)
9/15/2014

My recent book, Language and Muslim Immigrant Childhoods: The Politics of Belonging (2014), underscores the importance of studying immigrant children’s everyday lives and discursive practices to trace how the countervailing forces at play in transnational, diasporic settings impact these children’s sense of belonging and emerging processes of identification in the most immediate contexts of their daily existence. Moroccan immigrant children, in particular, walk a tight rope between difference and belonging as they simultaneously participate in their own immigrant community and a “host” society deeply ambivalent toward the multicultural politics of belonging provoked by recent migratory trends. In contemporary Spain, this ambivalence resonates forcefully in the current geopolitical climate of suspicion surrounding Muslim and North African immigrants as actualizations of the Moor invaders of centuries past.

In light of this ideologically and historically-saturated problematization of Moroccan immigrants, I explore children’s daily social engagements and face-to-face interactions in dialectic relation with broader cultural logics and socio-political discourses implicated in conceptualizations of inclusion/exclusion. At school, for instance, I examine how racialized exclusion is a product of everyday practice and of interpersonal relations. Through regimes of linguistically mediated surveillance, Spanish children mark the behavior of their Moroccan immigrant peers as deviant and establish the boundaries of unmarked ideological fields of naturalized social norms and behaviors. In this analysis, I highlight the role of everyday talk and face-to-face interactions in how processes of racialization establish inclusion/exclusion boundaries and reinforce social inequalities. This attention to everyday face-to-face talk-in-interaction is important both theoretically and analytically to complement the rich body of scholarship on language and racialized exclusion that has so far focused more intently on the institutional, political, and everyday discursive construction of social difference and racialized categories by members of dominant majorities.

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States

Seth Holmes (UC Berkeley)
11/06/2013                           *in Rm. 345

Based on five years of research in the field (including berry-picking and traveling with migrants back and forth from Oaxaca up the West Coast), this paper explores how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care. This work analyzes the ways in which socially structured suffering comes to be perceived as normal and natural in society and in health care, especially through imputations of ethnic body difference.