Event: The Land of Open Graves: Making Undocumented Migration Visible

Date & Time

February 11, 2020 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
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Contact Information

Michelle Jacobson
Phone 310-825-4004


California NanoSystems Institute Auditorium

Event Type

50th Anniversary Lecture Series

Event Details

Since the mid-1990s’, the U.S. federal government has relied on a border enforcement strategy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence.” Using various security infrastructure and techniques of surveillance, this strategy funnels undocumented migrants towards remote and rugged terrain with the hope that mountain ranges, extreme temperatures, and other “natural” obstacles will deter people from unauthorized entry. Thousands of people have perished while undertaking this dangerous activity. Since 2009, the Undocumented Migration Project has used a combination of archaeological, forensic, and ethnographic approaches to understand the various forms of violence that characterize the social process of clandestine migration. In this presentation, De León will discuss how the "archaeology of the contemporary" can help make this process visible and argue that the types of deaths that migrants experience in the desert are both violent and deeply political.

The Land of Open Graves will challenge audiences to confront the complexity of international migration and American policy choices.   

Reservations requested. Click here to RSVP by February 5. For more information call 310-825-4004.

Friends of the Cotsen Institute are invited to a private reception with Professor De León at 6pm. To learn more about the Friends visit their page or contact Michelle Jacobson at mjacobson@ioa.ucla.edu.

Jason De León, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology and Chicana/0 Studies
University of California, Los Angeles
Executive Director, Undocumented Migration Project

Jason De León, 2017 MacArthur Fellow, is Professor of Anthropology and Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles with his lab located in the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. His multidisciplinary approach to the study of migration from Latin America to the United States is bringing to light the lives and deaths of clandestine migrants crossing the U.S.–Mexico border into the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. He combines ethnographic analysis of migrant stories, forensic science, and archaeological research in his efforts to understand this process—who makes the journey, the routes, the means of survival and manner of death—and the human consequences of immigration policy.