Sunday Reading Suggestions: “The Refugees at Our Door” and “Erasing the U.S.-Mexico Border”

Last month, the New York Times ran an excellent profile about how the United States has outsourced to Mexico a crackdown against migrants looking to reach the U.S.-Mexico border. The author, Sonia Nazario, travels to Mexico to meet and write about the people affected by this policy, many of whom are living in shelters across the country. She describes the exhaustive ordeals migrants have endured, walking great distances through difficult mountain terrain, and fearing for their lives against abuse from gangs, the police, and others. The profile includes compelling photography of people’s living conditions. Nazario writes:

Although President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico said when he announced the so-called Southern Border Plan that it was to “protect the human rights of migrants as they pass through Mexico,” the opposite has happened. By the Mexican government’s own accounting, 72,000 migrants have been rescued from kidnappers in recent years. They are often tortured and held for ransom. The survivors tell of being enslaved working in marijuana fields or forced into prostitution. Many are killed — sometimes they have organs harvested — in what’s become an invisible, silent slaughter. The government push has been interpreted as open season on migrants who have become prey to an exploding number of criminals and the police who rob, rape, beat and kill them.

In another story we wanted to bring to your attention about a new exhibit along the border that combines art and activism. Writing for the Phoenix New Times, Lynn Trimble describes how artist Ana Teresa Fernández and volunteers have begun painting portions of the border fence that separates Nogales, Sonora from Nogales, Arizona. They “erase” the fence by painting it sky blue, allowing it to blend in with the horizon. It is part of a broader campaign that has seen people do the same elsewhere along the border. Trimble writes:

Fernandez conceived both “paint outs” as a way of erasing the border. By painting the border fence blue to match the sky, she created the illusion that the fence no longer existed along a portion of the border. In each case, she worked alongside others to make it happen. About three dozen people painted with her in Nogales, including ASU students, community members, and her mom — whom Fernandez credits with raising her consciousness of the border.

For the full stories, follow the links. Enjoy!

The Refugees at Our Door


Artist Ana Teresa Fernández on Erasing the U.S.-Mexico Border with Blue Paint


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Job Opening: Latin American or Borderlands History (TT, 4/4) at Stephen F. Austin State University

Dear readers, we wanted to let you know about a job opportunity with a deadline fast approaching. The Department of History at Stephen F. Austin State University is looking for qualified applicants to fill a tenure-track position in Latin American or Borderlands History. The teaching load is a 4/4; the successful candidate will be able to give undergraduate and graduate courses in Latin American and Borderlands history, as well as surveys class on U.S. or World history. The deadline to apply is 2 November.

For more information, follow the link:

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Sunday Reading Suggestion: Fuentes and the Forsaken Borderlands

In 2012, writing for the New York Times, Kyle Jarrard reflected on the life and literary contributions of Carlos Fuentes shortly after the author’s death in May. The crux of this article considered how Fuentes wrote about the border and he described its significance for Mexico and the United States as a liminal space of personal interaction, violence, and escape. As Jarrard described it, Fuentes wrote about the “ghosts” of the region and the stories they carried about a place on the periphery of the nation-state:

But it is not a romantic sojourn: He hits hard at both Mexico and the United States for letting the borderland sink into hell, and gets grief for it, of course, from the North, where they somehow doubt his convictions. “When I satire Mexico I’m a great satirist. When I poke fun at the United States, I’m a mean, clichéd caricaturist. It is curious that one should always get pallid anemic WASPs as critics.”

Those aren’t the words of a man who doesn’t believe entirely in all he writes, of the power of the people on his pages, of their absolute reality: They are you and me, and there is no space between them and us.

This is the vicarious joy Carlos produced: A love for the tragic fact of life here and now, for the auténtico, and for the unending voyage through history to see again that so much never changes. Generals or their progeny will always occupy the president’s office; gringos will always come over the border, drink and then go off into the perilous night in search of finality.

For the full article, follow the link:

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A Paradise from Some, Harsh Reality for Others

The Guardian reports on the heartbreaking reality of everyday life along the border. At Organ Pipe National Monument, there’s a tourist boom underway with visitor rates increasing by 30%. The landscape in this part of southwest Arizona is beautiful and certainly should be known by more people. Yet, it’s also a very dangerous area for migrants arriving via Mexico, and many risk their life to do so. As the article says, two very different pamphlets, one in English, the other in Spanish, underscore the sharp contrast between tourists and migrants at this park:

“Immerse yourself in a photographer’s paradise!” advises a glossy tourist brochure. “Explore the abundance of plants and wildlife unique to the Sonoran desert. Guided walks through the park, as well as hiking trails, camping and picnic facilities, are available. Drive the scenic 21-mile Ajo Mountain loop … star-studded night skies wash away the modern world.”

An identical-sized pamphlet on cheap paper, which you find in Mexican towns bordering the park, offers starker tips in Spanish.

“Use the north star and the movement of the moon to guide you towards the north during the night. Carry one gallon of water in each hand and six litres in the backpack. You can drink cactus fruit but the skin has nearly invisible spines. Peel carefully. If you have no water, drinking urine can sustain you for a while. Don’t do it repeatedly because it will become toxic.”

For the full story, follow the link:

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Michael Wolff to Speak at CNM

If you’re going to be in the area, Dr. Michael Wolff will be speaking at Central New Mexico Community College, next Wednesday, October 21. The topic he’ll be presenting is his work on the “pacification campaigns” in Rio de Janeiro’s slums by state forces against local criminal organizations. It should be a great talk. Dr. Wolff, who teaches at the University of New Mexico, has also researched the politics of violence and organized crime in Mexico, particularly in Ciudad Juárez.

For more information, check out the flyer. The talk is part of the Latin American Speaker Series, hosted jointly by CNM and UNM.


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Call for submissions: Edited volume on U.S. Internal Borderlands by Center for Western Studies

Dear readers, we’ve learned from Augustana University that the Center for Western Studies is looking for contributors to a new collection edited by Jon K. Lauck. The subject matter is the American Midwest and the Great Plains; the project is titled, “In Search of the Interior Borderlands Where does the Midwest End and the Great Plains Begin?”

The deadline for proposals is 20 November 2015 and chapters will be due on 21 October 2016. For more information, as well as how to submit your topic and CV, follow the link:
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Sunday Reading Suggestion: All Borderlands Are Ghost Lands

Dear readers, we wanted to let you know about an excellent new essay Ranbir Singh Sidhu has written for the Los Angeles Review of Books titled, “All Borderlands Are Ghost Lands.” He reflects on the refugee crisis in Europe informed by his own family’s history, when his mother and relatives were displaced by the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Writing eloquently and powerfully about the plight of refugees and how this ordeal scars the historical memory of one’s family, readers may find parallels with the regional crisis occurring in Central America and along the U.S.-Mexico border. From the essay:

In the end, all borderlands are ghost lands, and every border is painted in blood. Many of those fleeing today, caught in their exhaustion and despair on our television screens, carry with them similar stories. Behind those faces, that far too many in Europe are demanding to be shut out or deported, are often epic and tragic tales. The vast majority of people do not leave their homes, their memories, and their hopes to face the prospect of death by drowning simply for the possibility of economic gain. Real desperation drives them, and the near certainty that their lives, should they stay and somehow survive, would be lived among ruins.

For the full read, follow the link:


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Job Posting: U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History (TT) at TCU!

Dear readers, we wanted to make you aware of a job search Texas Christian University is conducting. They’re looking for qualified applicants to fill a tenure-track position in U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History in the Department of History and Geography. The position includes teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, and directing MA and PhD studies, among other duties. There’s a 3/2 teaching load and research support. Questions regarding the position can be sent to the search committee char, Gregg Cantrell: g.cantrell@tcu.edu

For more information, follow the link:


Good luck!

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Oscar Martinez to Speak at UTEP

FYI, for readers who will be in the area…

Flyer-Oscar Martinez

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Fellowship in Latino Studies from The School for Advanced Research

Good day, BHB readers! We just came across an interesting fellowship opportunity and wanted to share it with you. The School for Advanced Research, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is accepting applications for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship in Latino Studies. Qualified applicants will have completed their PhD in anthropology, history, sociology, religious studies, Latino/Chicano Studies or related fields by the application deadline, which is November 2, 2015. For more information, follow the link and good luck!

Details for the fellowship:


How to apply:


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