Luís Urrea kicks off SMU’s 2012 “Migration Matters” series Jan. 26

Luis Alberto Urrea, author of 'The Hummingbird's Daughter,' 'Queen of America' and 'The Devil's Highway'Luís Alberto Urrea – author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter, Queen of America and the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Devil’s Highway – returns to the Hilltop Jan. 26, 2012, to speak in a new SMU discussion series.

“Migration Matters: An Interdisciplinary Program on Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border” will feature 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. The seven-part series runs Jan. 26-April 26, and all events will be free and open to the community.

Urrea leads off the series with a discussion of his border-related writing and reportage. He came to campus in 2008 to discuss The Devil’s Highway – the true story of the Yuma 14 tragedy, and that year’s Common Reading for new SMU students – and spoke to a standing-room-only crowd in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Most of the University students who read The Devil’s Highway for Common Reading are seniors this year.

> SMU Forum: Author Luís Urrea talks about life and death on the border

“We want this to be a sustained discussion for our students, not just for these next four months, but one that will continue to influence their intellectual identities beyond their SMU years,” 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. Literature can be a powerful conduit to discussing current events, Sae-Saue says.

“This subject isn’t about so-called ‘foreigners’ and making distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them,’” he says. “It’s about understanding how we imagine complex social relationships that implicate everyone. It’s a community issue, one that will allow our students to learn to understand the broad scope of migration-related topics in this election year, and as they move into leadership positions after graduation.”

Urrea’s work in particular, Sae-Saue notes, “helps us make sense of the complicated social, cultural and economic dynamics at the U.S.-Mexico border, including the chaos and confusion regarding the dangerous journey people face when crossing it — and the hostility faced once they arrive here, if they arrive here.”

Written by Denise Gee

> Find more information and a complete “Migration Matters” schedule at SMU News
> More about Luís Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway as the 2008 SMU Common Reading
> Luís Alberto Urrea on KERA Public Radio’s “Think” Jan. 23, 2012