Experts link murdered women and environmental ruin at the border

immigration

Experts link murdered women and environmental ruin at the border

The Rev. Daisy L. MachadoThe ongoing murders of countless women at the U.S.-Mexico border, along with devastating environmental damage inflicted by factories, are the subject of “Ecocide and Femicide on the Border: Ecofeminism and the Maquiladora Murders.” The event will take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26, in 121 Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall.

Guest speakers are the Rev. Daisy L. Machado (pictured right), dean of academic affairs and professor of church history at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and Evelyn Parker, associate professor of practical theology at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

This is the final event in SMU’s seven-part 2012 “Migration Matters” series addressing the most pressing U.S./Mexico-border challenges.

Ecofeminists, inspired by theologian and nun Ivone Gebara of Brazil, have called Christians to think about the connections between poverty, violence to both the Earth and humans, and immigration. It is estimated that more than 400 female maquiladora (export assembly plant) workers have been murdered in Ciudad Juárez alone since 1993.

“This desert area, filled with toxic air and water produced by the maquiladoras, and the people who live there — poor and uneducated workers, mostly women — are devalued by a patriarchal society and commodified until they become expendable and invisible,” Machado says.

“This concerns me because these realities remain unresolved,” she adds. “So I ask the Christian community: Why are we not responding? And how can we advocate social, ecological and gender justice?”

Parker is looking forward to her conversation with Machado, with whom she has collaborated in the past. But this powerful subject, she says, “will take on new complexities — and possibilities.”

The program is supported by SMU’s Office of the Dean of Dedman College; the Geurin-Pettus Program; the Scott-Hawkins Fund; the Embrey Human Rights Program; the Department of English; the George and Mary Foster Distinguished Lecture in Cultural Anthropology; and the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions in Perkins School of Theology, with funding from The Henry Luce Foundation.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact series coordinator Jayson Sae-Saue, Department of English, 214-768-4369.

Written by Denise Gee

> Learn more about the 2012 “Migration Matters” series from SMU News

April 26, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|

Series explores ‘the concept of home’ with El Norte screening April 4

A film poster from Gregory Nava's 'El Norte'SMU’s 2012 “Migration Matters” series continues Wednesday, April 4, with a film classic that raises important issues concerning U.S. immigration. A screening of El Norte, featuring commentary by SMU Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Caroline Brettell, is scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m. in SMU’s McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The Academy Award-nominated 1983 documentary, directed by Gregory Nava, focuses on two Guatemala Mayan peasants, a brother and sister, who flee their country because of political persecution and head north (el norte). The film traces their journey, border-crossing experiences and subsequent life in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants.

“It raises poignant questions about the concept of home and touches on a host of issues important to understanding U.S. immigration,” Brettell says.

For more information about this event or others in the series, contact “Migration Matters” coordinator Jayson Sae-Saue, Department of English, Dedman College, 214-768-4369.

Shirin Tavakoli contributed to this report.

> Find the full “Migration Matters” schedule at the SMU News website

April 4, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|

‘Migration Matters’ takes on elections, law & language March 29

U.S.-Mexico border

The U.S.-Mexico border, as seen from space.

SMU’s “Migration Matters” series continues Thursday, March 29, 2012, with its fourth event – a panel discussion of “Elections, the Law and Languages at the Border.”

The discussion, free and open to the public, takes place 5:30-7:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

Featured speakers include:

The seven-part series, running through April 26, features compelling and knowledgeable artists, educators, faith leaders and law enforcement insiders to share the latest information on border-related migration trends, crime, politics, humanitarian efforts, art and literature. All events are free and open to the community.

For more information about this event or others in the series, contact “Migration Matters” coordinator Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue, Department of English, Dedman College, 214-768-4369.

> Find a complete “Migration Matters” schedule at SMU News

March 29, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|

‘Migration Matters’ series continues with ‘Border Myths’ Feb. 22

Is there a real threat of Islamic terrorists crossing into the United States from Mexico? Is the Mexican justice system doing everything it can to curb drug cartel violence? And is America enabling U.S.-Mexico border problems by providing too many willing illegal drug buyers and too-easy access to assault weapons?

U.S.-Mexico border

U.S.-Mexico border as seen from space.

A noted panel of U.S.-Mexico border scholars will explore these issues Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 in “Barbed-Wire Art, Border Myths and Immigration Violence,” the third event in SMU’s interdisciplinary “Migration Matters” series. The discussion, free and open to the public, takes place 5:30–7:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

Featured speakers include:

  • Maria Herrera-Sobek, professor of Chicana/o studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Josiah Heyman, anthropology professor at the University of Texas, El Paso
  • Roberto Villalon, sociology professor at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in New York.

The panel will examine how and why negative myths continue to circulate around immigration and the U.S-Mexico border despite reliable information proving them false, says “Migration Matters” coordinator Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue, an English professor specializing in Chicano/a literature in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “The panel will also address how pictorial narrative is a powerful means by which artists have attempted to make visible the conditions that reductionist rhetoric and myths obscure,” he says.

Migration Matters lecture series at SMUUTEP professor Heyman proposes that people re-examine such images and stereotypes in two ways: “Where do they come from,” he asks, “and how do we achieve a more critical, complex understanding of them?”

For more information about this event or others in the series, contact Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue, 214-768-4369.

Written by Denise Gee

February 21, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|

Research Spotlight: Immigrants and American identity in North Texas

Who belongs in America?


EFE: “La inmigracion es una amenaza para los ciudadanos de Farmers Branch”

Immigration has sparked a raging national debate about that question – including in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch, Texas, the first U.S. city to adopt an ordinance requiring renters to prove they are legal residents.

Contrary to what many believe, however, race isn’t the only driving reason that many white, middle-class people feel threatened by immigrants, according to a new analysis by Caroline Brettell, University Distinguished Professor in Anthropology, and Faith Nibbs a doctoral candidate in anthropology in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

White, middle-class people also perceive immigrants who are settling in their suburban communities as a threat to their class status and to their very identity as Americans, say the researchers. With cultures and traditions different from white suburbanites, they are viewed as an assault on long-standing symbols of American nationality – including middle-class values and tastes, and the perception that Americans are patriotic and law-abiding, they add.

“For many whites, American identity is wrapped up with being suburban and middle class, and when they see immigrants changing their communities and potentially threatening their class status, they react with anti-immigrant legislation,” Brettell says.

brettell.jpg
Caroline Brettell
nibbs_cropped.jpg
Faith Nibbs

The anthropologists base their conclusion on a close analysis of Farmers Branch, a suburb of almost 28,000 people that made news in 2006 as the first U.S. city to adopt an ordinance requiring that apartment managers document tenants as legal residents. The researchers looked at newspaper articles and blogs, conducted a lengthy interview with a key City Council member, carried out background historical research and analyzed U.S. Census data.

The research has been accepted for publication in the journal International Migration in an article titled “Immigrant Suburban Settlement and the ‘Threat’ to Middle Class Status and Identity: The Case of Farmers Branch, Texas.”

New immigrants to the United States are settling in major gateway cities like Dallas and making their homes directly in middle-class suburbs, say Brettell and Nibbs. These suburbs – once called the “bourgeois utopia” where middle-class values triumph – are populated by white people who decades before fled the central cities to escape poor housing, deteriorating schools, and racial and ethnic diversity, the researchers say.

But when immigrants and white suburbs mix, the result can be explosive, as in the case of Farmers Branch. Whites view their hometown changing. And the changes feel very foreign to them – new religious institutions, ethnic strip-shopping malls, signs in languages other than English, and bilingual programs for education, health care and law-enforcement programs.

The historic roots of Farmers Branch lie in a land grant designed to draw “free and white” inhabitants to the area in the 1850s, say the researchers. Farmers Branch grew to 17,500 by 1970, and at that time there were 320 Hispanic surnames in the city. By 2000, however, the Hispanic population had grown to more than one-third of the total. By 2008, Hispanics were the largest demographic group, with 46.7 percent of the population.

Brettell and Nibbs say that white suburbanites have also invoked the “Rule of Law” in Farmers Branch and elsewhere.

“As the formulation of laws and their enforcement are disproportionately unavailable to ethnic minorities, and completely inaccessible to undocumented immigrants, the principle of Rule of Law has become a convenient weapon for the Farmers Branch middle class in their fight for status and the status quo,” say Brettell and Nibbs in the article. “Add to this a bit of the legacy of Texas frontier mentality and patriotism and you have a line drawn in the sand by those who stand for the Rule of Law as something absolutely fundamental to American identity and hence perceive illegal immigrants as a threat to that identity.”

In that way, the “Rule of Law” is a tool to exclude unauthorized immigrants and attempt to legislate a certain quality of life, such as English-only communication, as well as proof of citizenship to rent a dwelling, apply for food stamps or get school financial aid, say the researchers.

“Everyone is looking at race but not at class in the study of immigrants, and particularly in anti-immigrant backlash,” Brettell says. “We add to this literature the analysis of ‘Rule of Law’ as a newly rhetorical device that excludes illegal immigrants. Our article offers a new way of looking at this issue.”

Written by Margaret Allen

> Read more from the SMU Research blog

October 13, 2010|Research|
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