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Conference seeks wider window on borders

Migrating peoples, and their impact on the cultures and political discourse of their adopted countries, have been much reported in the news lately, says Matthew Bush. This is especially true of Mexican immigrants in the United States and of African and Middle Eastern immigrants in Europe.

But the news stories, and the political debates in the U.S. during this presidential election year, tell only part of the story, says Bush, an associate professor of Spanish in the department of modern languages and literatures.

In South America, immigrants are moving from Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru to Argentina and Chile. And many immigrants from Central America are crossing Mexico’s southern border.

In an effort to offer a wider perspective on immigration in the Western Hemisphere, the Latin American Studies Program will host a conference this week titled “Fronteras: The Latin American Border Experience,” co-sponsored by the modern languages and literatures department and the Global Studies Program. The title’s key word—fronteras—is the Spanish word for borders.

The conference, which features two panel discussions, will run from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, in the Scheler Humanities Forum in Room 200 of Linderman Library. Registration is not required.

“This is a timely topic,” says Bush, who directs Lehigh’s Latin American Studies Program. “This is an election year in the U.S., and we’re going to hear a lot about the Latino vote, Latino issues and the border.

“We believe it makes sense to think of the border not just as a political line but as a cultural space with a lot of fluidity where cultures become entwined and mixed. People who cross borders can become bicultural, and different traditions can become combined.”

The two panel discussions are titled “Border Aesthetics,” which begins at 10 a.m., and “Border Socialities,” which begins at 1:45 p.m.

The first panel will be moderated by Leticia Robles-Moreno, a Ph.D. candidate in performance studies at New York University. The second will be moderated by Bárbara Zepeda Cortes, assistant professor of Spanish in Lehigh’s department of modern languages and literatures.

The speakers, and their presentation titles, include:

•    Javier Uriarte, assistant professor of Hispanic languages and literatures at SUNY’s Stony Brook University—“Utopia and Sexual Encounters in the Amazonian Frontier: Reading Roger Casement’s Black Diaries
•    Ángeles Donoso Macaya, assistant professor of modern languages at CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College—“(Documentary) Photography and its Limits”
•    Nanci Buiza, assistant professor of Spanish at Swarthmore College—“Surviving Mexico: The Central American Migrants’ Journey on Film”
•    Miguel Pillado, assistant professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies at Lehigh—“Before the Border, the Border: México and the Central American Migrant in La fila India by Antonio Ortuño”
•    Ulla Berg, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Rutgers University and associate professor of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies and of anthropology—“Whiteness, Choledad, and New Elites in Neoliberal Peru”
•    Alexandra Delano, assistant professor of Global Studies and co-director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School University, and Benjamin Nienass, assistant professor of political science at California State University at San Marcos—“Deaths, (In)Visibility, and Responsibility: The Politics of Mourning at the U.S.-Mexico Border”
•    Megan Sheehan, postdoctoral fellow in anthropology at Lehigh—“Crafting Difference and Constructing Boundaries: A Discussion of Latin American Migration to Chile”
•    Hugo Ceron-Anaya, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Lehigh—“A Not So Fluid Border: Race and Class in Mexico”

Story by Kurt Pfitzer


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