The Kent Family Speaker Series Presents:
The Land of Open Graves: Necroviolence and the Politics of Migrant Death in the Arizona Desert
Jason De Leon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology and MacArthur Foundation Fellow, 2017-2022, University of Michigan
Since the mid-1990s’, the U.S. Federal Government has relied on a border enforcement strategy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence.” This strategy funnels undocumented migrants towards remote and rugged
terrain, such as the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, with the hope that mountains ranges, extreme temperatures, and other “natural” obstacles will deter people from unauthorized entry.
In this presentation, I focus on what happens to the bodies of migrants who die in the desert. Drawing on the archaeological concept of taphonomy (i.e., the various post-mortem processes that impact biological remains), I argue that the way that bodies decompose in this environment is a form of hidden political violence that has deep ideological roots.
Sponsored by the UCF Department of Anthropology & the UCF College of Sciences.