Undocumented immigration across the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona: A long-term analysis of clandestine border crossings

Monday, October 17th, 10:45 am - 11:45 am
Jason De León

Just south of the Mexico-Arizona border, at least a dozen manufacturers produce close to half a million water bottles a year—in a town of about 9,000 people. Those bottles, along with other goods produced and sold to migrants planning to cross the border into the United States, end up scattered across the desert on the American side. Where smuggling industries once focused exclusively on fake passports and IDs used at official ports of entry, Jason De Leon now finds migrants depositing hundreds of thousands of tuna cans, baby shoes, clothing, and those water bottles in the remote and deadly Sonoran Desert of Arizona—indicators of how migration has changed over the past 20 years.

He and his students map and record every single human object left behind, as if they were uncovering a Mayan archaeological site. Analysis of these artifacts is coupled with long-term studies of how people prepare themselves for border crossings on the Mexican side and what happens to them when they are deported following a failed crossing attempt. De Leon will describe findings from his research and explain why anti-immigration fervor is higher in Arizona than anywhere else along the U.S.-Mexican border. (And when he’s done, De Leon, a guitarist, might share the playlist from his course on the anthropology of rock and roll, including songs illustrating such things as “the construction of whiteness in punk rock.”) For more information...