Dr. Margaret E. Dorsey, Curator

Margaret E. Dorsey, Curator

Margaret E. Dorsey, Ph.D., founder and former Curator of the Border Studies Archive. Anthropologist Margaret Dorsey’s two current research projects incorporate a strong public component. One project--developed with Miguel Díaz-Barriga--“A Nation Divided: Immigration and Citizenship on the Border” analyzes underlying notions of citizenship that inform the current U.S. immigration debate. Our title more specifically refers to the cleavage within U.S. society over the construction of a border fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. We base the larger research project on ethnographic case study of Mexican Americans on the Texas-Mexican border from July 2008 to January 2010. Our blog reports from “the field,” on the construction of the border wall and, more generally, on immigration issues in South Texas. In addition, Dorsey's and Díaz-Barriga's article in Journal of Black Studies explores President Obama’s perspective on immigration reform.

Dorsey's other current study--which includes an ethnographic film archive--explores the contributions of Tejana music diva Linda Escobar, focusing on the challenges a female performer faces in a patriarchal industry. This video collection draws attention to conjunto music's role in cultural hybridity because it marks the Mexican American experience in Texas, and for that matter, the experience of many borderlanders. As Gloria Anzaldúa famously theorized the "mestizaje" experience of "gente de la frontera" (people of the border), and like Anzaldúa—a Rio Grande Valley native—invites us, this collection pushes viewers to understand this experience as beyond binaries and one that creates new imaginaries. For a preliminary view of this work, see http://www.eviada.org/collection.cfm?mc=7&ctID=45.

Dorsey, a native of South Texas, has long been attracted to the music and politics of the border region. In particular, she studied the growing convergence of politics and marketing as it manifests through grassroots political practices, cultural practices, and race relations along the Texas-Mexican border. In her book, Pachangas: Borderlands Music, U.S. Politics, and Transnational Marketing (University of Texas Press 2006), Dorsey focuses on how national marketers and political parties incorporate Texas Mexican cultural practices into their marketing strategies. In addition, Dorsey studied Tex-Mex music as a vehicle of political and national level marketing campaigns. In her article in Latin American Music Review, Dorsey’s attention to music focuses on sexuality and nation formation. Her article in Political and Legal Anthropology Review explores the political economy of music and its role in constituting public culture.

Dorsey shares her knowledge on border studies with a variety of audiences, from journalists at the National Press Club to academics at the University Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communication. Dorsey earned her dual Ph.D. in Anthropology and Communication & Culture with an outside minor in Ethnomusicology & Folklore from Indiana University-Bloomington. Dorsey is currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Richmond.