Anthropology Annual Lecture explores the migrant crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border

US Mexico border

The Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) presents this year’s Anthropology Annual Lecture on March 17 at 4:30 p.m. with anthropologist and academic Jason De León. 

Photo of Jason De León
Jason De León

Serving as the keynote speaker for the event, De León will discuss “The Land of Open Graves: Understanding the Current Politics of Migrant Life and Death along the U.S.-Mexico Border.” 

De León is a professor of anthropology and Chicana/o and Central American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He serves as executive director of the Undocumented Migration Project, a research-arts-education collective that seeks to document and raise awareness about the experiences of clandestine migrants. De León is also president of the board of directors for the Colibri Center for Human Rights, a non-profit that seeks to identify and repatriate the remains of people who have died while migrating through the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. He is also the author of the award-winning book The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail and is a 2017 MacArthur Fellow. 

In this presentation, De León will focus on what happens to the bodies of migrants who die in the desert. He argues the way bodies decompose in this environment is a form of hidden political violence that has deep ideological roots and demonstrates how the post-mortem destruction of migrant corpses creates devastating forms of long-lasting trauma. 

“We are excited to welcome Professor Jason De León as he shares his expertise on the experiences of migrants and the complex processes that occur after their untimely deaths. De León is a pathbreaking anthropologist whose research has had a transformative effect on the discipline and whose public-facing works continue to make a positive impact,” says Othon Alexandrakis, Department of Anthropology Chair and associate professor, LA&PS. 

This event is co-sponsored by Founders College and the Centre for Refugee Studies. The annual lecture is a leading event for the Department of Anthropology. The yearly address provides faculty, staff and students with a unique opportunity to meet eminent leaders in the field. 

All members of the York University community are welcome to attend this event. Registration is required. For more information on De León’s keynote speech, visit the Anthropology Annual Lecture Series webpage.