№ 145/2016 from May 10, 2016
On May 12 Professor Jason de León from the University of Michigan (USA), Department of Anthropology, will hold a lecture in English on the topic "The Materiality of Migration. The Politics of Migrant Death at the Arizona-Mexican Border." For years de León, who is an archaeologist and cultural anthropologist, has been studying refugees on the border between the United States and Mexico, by attempting to make visible the material remains of those fleeing and to tell their stories. The lecture was scheduled to accompany a public lecture series currently being held by the Excellence Cluster Topoi dealing with migration from antiquity to the present day. The lecture is public, and admission is free.
Many media have been dealing with the concept of Europe as a fortress – in some media reports there was even talk of the Mediterranean as a mass grave. In America people also die while fleeing from Central and South America to the United States. Jason de León is one of the few researchers who have been investigating the survival and death of refugees picked up by local U.S. militias and the border police. The border fence is just one hurdle – once it has been crossed, there is still a dangerous march through the desert. What are the people from Central America fleeing from? What do they experience along the way?
De León's work – for example, the book published at the end of 2015, The Land of Open Graves – is more than a documentation of suffering. It conveys new insights on the impact of a policy of deterrence that are also of importance to Europeans.