Fourth Annual 2019 International Conference on Border Studies: Global Borders: Resistance & Resilience



Fourth International Conference of Border Studies
October 24th, 2019- Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico
October 25th, 2019- Edinburg, Texas, United States
Registration Deadline: October 2019

 View Call for Proposals

Professors, researchers, students, and the general public interested in Border Studies topics are invited to participate in this conference.

Our goal is to generate a space for the exchange of research and socialization among those interested in issues related to global borders around the world.

We encourage papers that consider any global border as well as theoretical papers on the ideology of borders more generally and how borders and borderlands help us understand broader global issues.

Submit proposals here

The proximity to the border of our locations in Mexico and the US is a special opportunity for scholars and researchers from the US and Mexico to collaborate in a unique geographic region on the important and timely issues related to borders. We aim to encourage working together across borders to find solutions to some of the most important economic, social, and ecological problems we face today.

Feel free to call me at (956) 457-3083 if you need a bit more guidance.

We regret, however, that the conference organizers, and UTRGV, must strongly advise against travel to Matamoros since currently Matamoros is under a level 4 U.S. State Department warning and there has been a recent increase in fighting among the drug cartels. 

Please direct all questions to Caroline Miles at or call (956) 457-3083

Students attending this conference also have the opportunity to: Request Support - Home


To view The Fourth Annual International Border Studies Conference Program, click here.



  • Conference Fees

    General Participants - $85
    Mexican Participants - $50
    Graduate Students - $35

  • Portal for Pre-Registration

    The portal to pay pre-registration fees online can be accessed by clicking here

    For help navigating through the pay portal please review the First-Time User Guide.

Panel Sessions & Roundtable Discussions

  • Panel 1: Literary and Musical Borders

    Moderator: Amy Cummins

    Savages and Public Women: Representations of Violent Euphemisms in Chicanx Drama of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. Laura Belmonte, University of New Mexico.

    Abstract: In this paper, I analyze the theatrical dramas "The Mummified Deer" (2000) and "The Women of Juarez" (2005) by Chicano dramatists Luis Valdez and Ruben Amavizca Murua. These plays are set along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico Border, therefore portray experiences of indigenous and immigrant communities. Nicole Guidotte-Hernández’s concept of “Euphemization of Violence” is used to study use of euphemistic language regarding violence towards women and indigenous peoples along the U.S.-Mexico Border represented in these plays. The play "The Women of Juarez" represents the violence arbitrated against women working in maquiladoras and the finding of women’s bodies outside of Juarez, Mexico in the early 2000s. "The Mummified Deer" represents how the Yaqui tribe was systematically removed from their lands in Sonora by the Mexican government in the early twentieth century through deportation to Yucatán, yet some escaped by fleeing north to Arizona and establishing the town of Guadalupe. I discuss how Valdez and Amavizca Murua represent the justification of violence towards these groups as a systematic euphemizing through the language, particularly with terms such as “public women” and “savages,” and also with the silence in response to demands for justice for the victims.


    Bio: Dr. Laura Belmonte is an Assistant Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico. Her ongoing research is on the cultural exchange and fluidity that exists along the Borderlands, particularly how these cultural exchanges manifest in Chicana feminist literature. Dr. Belmonte has been teaching Spanish, Chicana and Chicano Studies, and Cultural Studies for over ten years. Currently, she is writing a book on the demographic changes of Albuquerque, New Mexico from the nineteenth century to today, and how White Flight has impacted the city.


    Representations of Alternative Migrations in Contemporary Young Adult Literature. Amy Cummins, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

    Abstract: This talk on “Representations of Alternative Migrations in Contemporary Young Adult Literature in the United States” focuses on how works of young adult literature (YAL) published between 2011 and 2019 portray specific aspects of living undocumented as a teenager in the United States. Significant texts will be explored along with interpretation of patterns in the narrative perspective, structure, and depictions of journeys, allies, education, and vocation. While the fictional literature aims to build empathy, it has serious limitations and problems.


    Bio: Dr. Amy Cummins works as an Associate Professor of English in the Department of Literatures and Cultural Studies at UTRGV. She teaches English 3337, “Children’s and Adolescent Literature.” Recent publications include “René Saldaña, Jr.’s Innovations of Children’s Detective Fiction in the Mickey Rangel Series” in the Spring 2019 issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection.

    Literary Representations of Migrant Death at the US-Mexico Border. Caroline Tracey, University of California, Berkeley.


    Death now marks the US-Mexico borderlands. On both sides of the border, migrants seeking the United States perish in large numbers. While scholarship from both the US and Mexico considers these deaths in light of theoretical considerations of necropolitics (Mbembe 2003) and the “state of exception” (Agamben 1998), the scholarly considerations of death in the region remain disconnected—themselves divided by the border. While deaths on the US side are primarily by exposure, deaths in Mexico are primarily homicides. In addition to geographic separation, these different causes of death are part of the reason that migrant deaths have not been considered as a single phenomenon.

     This paper draws on a different theoretical foundation in order to see migrant deaths from both sides of the border in light of one another. It examines contemporary literary accounts of bordercrosser deaths from Mexican, Mexican-American, and white American authors. The works to be examined are: Sara Uribe’s Antígona González (Oaxaca: Sur+editions, 2012), Eduardo C. Corral’s Slow Lightning (New Haven: Yale, 2012), Balam Rodrigo’s Libro Centroamericano de los Muertos (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2018), and Forrest Gander’s Be With (New York: New Directions, 2018). Each of these contemporary poets treats the topic of migrant death at the border. By examining the ways that such deaths are treated in these literary texts, the paper draws connections between the two sides of the border. It uses the literary texts to understand what commonalities with regard to death, grief, and mourning are shared (or not shared) between deaths on the two sides of the border, aiming to develop a humanistic understanding of the significance of bordercrosser deaths in the twenty-first century.

    Bio: Caroline Tracey is a PhD Candidate in the Geography Department at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studies the US Southwest and the spaces to which it is, and has long been, connected through migration, economy, and ecology. Her dissertation project, researched in Falfurrias, Texas and Mexico City, focuses on current humanitarian responses to migrant death in South Texas, which are hemispheric, political, and intimate. She spent spring 2019 as a visiting student at the Instituto de Geografía of the UNAM. As a writer she is a regular contributor to SFMOMA’s Open Space and Nexos (Mexico).

    Sonidos de dos Hermanos: Análisis de las principales corrientes musicales en Las diferentes zonas fronterizas entre México y Estados Unidos.  Mtro. Fernando Alexis Meza Méndez, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas.

  • Panel 2: Documenting, Mapping, and Delving Borderlands’ Resistance and Resilience

    Moderator: Sylvia Fernández

    Borderlands Archives Cartography: Mapping U.S.-Mexico Newspapers from 1808 to 1930. Maira Álvarez, University of Houston.

    Torn Apart / Separados: Documenting the US Immigration's Detention Mechanism. Sylvia Fernández, University of Houston.

    Abstract: Borderlands’ identities have emerged throughout history as a result of the loss of territory, (im)migrations, exile, deterritorialization, deportation, transborder dynamics, divisions, as well as mechanisms of militarization. By documenting the borderlands through the use of archival material, public data and digital cultural records, digital humanities scholarship is being created and is oriented towards social justice. These initiatives are using digital companions to delve and reveal other notions of the US-Mexico border, as well as to expand on the understanding of local and global borderlands. In this panel, the speakers will address, in Spanish and English, how collaborative projects such as Borderlands Archives Cartography (BAC), Torn Apart / Separados (TA/S) and United Fronteras disrupt toxic discourses of the border region and its communities through the use of different digital tools.  

    United Fronteras: Delving in the Borderlands Digital and Cultural Record. Annette Zapata, University of Houston, and Verónica Romero, University of Houston.

  • Panel 3: Intimate Borders

    Moderator: Lupe A. Flores

    Temporarily Family: Borders and Ethno-Kinship Migration in South Korea. Sohoon Yi, Kyungpook National University.

    "Since I had the passage to help, why not?": Women in Migrant Smuggling at the Texas-Tamaulipas Border. Lupe A. Flores, Rice University.

    Saberes Curativos and the Education of Place. Silvia Patricia Solis, University of Utah.

    Abstract: Tracing Saberes is an educational ethnography tracing the saberes curativos of four women of Mexican heritage living in a U.S. Mexico border town and landscape. Saberes are indigenous and afro-descendant peoples’ complex and multidimensional knowings of the world As part of indigenous and afro-descendants knowledge systems, they represent a form of quotidian learning within family and community life (Hale and Stephen, 2013; Mercado, 1994; Urrieta Jr., 2013). Saberes create and permeate everyday practices, relations and world-making abilities to teach and learn fundamental, complex, and specialized knowledge needed to survive y vivir bien [and live well][1]. Saberes have traveled since time immemorial from one generation to the next through practices such as those created by the women in this ethnography (Bonfil Batalla, 1987; Hale and Stephen, 2013; Urrieta Jr., 2013).

    Bio: Silvia Patricia Solis is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department Education, Culture & Society, in the College of Education at the University of Utah. With a concentration in the Anthropology of Education, her research traces indigenous and black people’s curative saberes (knowings) in the practices of women of Mexican heritage living in the U.S./Mexico border. She is co-founder of Deep Roots Rising, a collective of scholars and educators dedicated to insurgency and radical conviviality grounded in a critique of empire and empire-building processes. She is the editorial assistant for Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. Currently, she lives in Salt Lake City with her two children and partner.

    Las opciones de los migrantes deportados que llegan a una frontera TamaulipecaDra. Jacqueline Alejandra Ramos García, Universidad Autónoma De Tamaulipas.

  • Roundtable: Tuberculosis on the Border: Challenges and Solutions to Prevention and Management

    Moderator: Blanca I. Restrepo

    Roundtable Participants: Otto Bonetta, M.D., MPH, DSHS, Melissa Davies, RN, BSN, MS, Texas Department of State and Health Services, Eder Ledezma-Campos, M.D. Director of Mycobacteriosis, Secretaria de Salud de Tamaulipas, Horacio Ramirez-Oropesa, M.D., Clinical Leader of the State Committee for Drug Resistance in TB.

  • Panel 4: Re-thinking Borders through History, Politics, and Globalization

    Moderator: Sylvia Gonzalez Gorman

    La Frontera México-Estados Unidos: Una aproximación a su abordaje histórico y teórico. Profr. Oshiel Martínez Chapa and Profr. Jorge Eduardo Salazar Castillo, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas.

    Fuentes fijas emisoras de compuestos orgánicos volátiles en la frontera de México y Estados Unidos. Su atención pública desde los gobiernos locales fronterizos. Dr. Enoc Alejandro García Rivera, CONACYT- Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas.

    Alteridades de la identidad nacional como efecto de la globalización. Dr. Hector Manuel Capello Garcia. Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas.

    Political Implications of Bi-National Trade and Immigration Between the U.S. and Mexico: Does the ‘Wall’ Matter? Sylvia Gonzalez Gorman, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

  • Moderator: Leanne Purdum

    Roundtable Participants: Leanne Purdum, University of Georgia, Nate Roter, University of Chicago, Katy Murdza, Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

  • Panel 5: Narratives of Belonging

    Moderator: Deanna Del Vecchio

    Borders, Territories, and Citizenship: Experience of the Sixth Schedule Areas. Lalpekhlui, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

    Abstract: In 1947, India got independence from British rule, followed by partition. As a result, the British India was divided into India and Pakistan. The partition had a great implication on socio political life of the people. Which citizen they will acquire? How will they find their place in the land of redrawn boundaries? Citizenship in its basic form denotes membership within a territory with certain rights and entitlements. It also indicates a commonality among such members of the group. 

    Citizenship is reciprocal. It encompasses individual rights and entitlement. It also implies duties and responsibilities. Citizenship is challenging and incomplete, as it designates only a formal status and fails to look at whether an individual feels as a member of a particular country. It becomes more challenging, when the history of frontiers and state are overlooked, the postcolonial states maintained the drawing of boundaries created by the colonial rulers who were naïve about the region, and segregated the people into different administrative zone for their own convenience. This study intends to look at the relationship between borders, territories and citizenship that shaped socio-political life of people residing in Indo-Myanmar borderland.


    I am a research scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati Campus. I am a hard-working person who is enthusiastic about learning and exploring new ideas.

    Academic background:

    -Bachelor of Arts- St. Francis College for Women, Hyderabad, Osmania University

    • Master of Arts (Political Science)- Gauhati University, Guwahati.
    • Master of Philosophy- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati

    Citizenship vs nationalism Dilemma in the South of the Red Sea (border disputable region) and the Impact of Modernization and Sedentarization on the Beja Livelihood System.  Ohoud Wafi, L'université Paris Diderot.

    Border Imaginaries: A Journey Along the Route of the Real and Imagined Texas-Mexico Wall.  Deanna Del Vecchio, University of Toronto.

    Abstract: This paper explores the effects of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, from the perspectives of people living along it and through careful consideration of its effects on non-human persons. Two doctoral students, Nisha Toomey (lead author) and Deanna Del Vecchio (presenting author), travel 400 miles along the Rio Grande river, examining relationships to place in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands through interviews with DACA recipients and their lawyer, environmentalists, scientists, and local hikers. The authors use Indigenous theories of land and place and critical place inquiry, with an emphasis on living in relationship to land, to foreground place in their research methodology (Grande, 2015; Tuck & McKenzie, 2015; Goeman, 2013; LaDuke, 2015). The paper explores migration and the impacts of educational policies on undocumented youth in the United States, through interviews with people impacted by the proposed border wall by virtue of their geographic location near the Texas-Mexico border. Through perspectives that emphasize the rights of the human and the other-than-human, we examine a variety of understandings of what the border means. Conclusions explore the nonsensical nature of the project of building a wall, the resistance to being categorized as static, and the physical and psychic violence caused by the restriction of movement. 

    Bio: Deanna Del Vecchio is a doctoral candidate in Social Justice Education at the University of Toronto. In 2019, she is based at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico City through a Mexican government scholarship. Deanna studies the use of visual methodologies by social science researchers, focusing on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Her career in education has included classroom teaching, community-based learning, outdoor education, and teacher training. She has co-authored chapters in The Methodological Dilemma: Creative, Critical and Collaborative Approaches to Qualitative Research (Ed. Kathleen Gallagher, 2019) and Toward What Justice? Describing Diverse Dreams of Justice in Education (Ed. Eve Tuck & K. Wayne Yang, 2018). 

    Global Borders and the paradox of African Migration. Samuel Orovwuje, Founder and National Coordinator of the Humanitarian Care for Displaced persons in Nigeria.

    Abstract: Despite the commendable strides in globalisation and international migration, the absence of a
    comprehensive global border migration policy remains a very serious issue for Africans.
    This paper examines the trajectories of African Migration within the Global Border space. While
    there are access migration policies, barriers increase at global borders for Africans. The paper
    argues the exclusion and vulnerability of Africans in the global border architecture and
    immigration systems.
    It examines and theorises the global border governance structures, the global border policy –
    making processes relating to African Migration and it discusses the dilemma of African migration
    and it offer new and valuable perspectives for intellectuals, policy makers and borders
    In particular, it examines the global border governance discourse, focus on negative perception
    and stigmatisation of African migration and highlights challenges with international protection
    framework, that miscomprehend Africans as victims of migration within the global border space.
    It concludes with suggestions for durable strategies to reconnect African Migration to the global
    border space, it put forward critical reflection on how to mainstream equitable open border
    regimes, and other levels of socio-political engineering that reduce stigmatisation and
    vulnerability of Africans.

    Bio: Samuel Akpobome Orovwuje is currently the Founder/National Coordinator at Humanitarian
    Care for Displaced Persons, a not –for – profit organisation-providing research, advocacy, and
    his research interest focuses on Borders, Migration, International Development, Gender, and
    Governance, Poverty, Sustainable Human Development and Development Paradigms. .
    Sam holds two Masters Degrees in Public and International Affairs, and Humanitarian and
    Refugee Studies from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and a certificate in forced migration from
    the Prestigious Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.
    His works has been published in journals and most recent book publication is titled,
    Federalism, Leadership and Development (Germany: Dictus Publishing, 2017).

    The Ecological Impact of Border Walls: Why Do We Need Posthuman Conversations in Border Studies. Umut Ozguc, The University of New South Wales, Canberra.

    Abstract: This paper seeks to address the shortcomings of theoretical frameworks that dominate questions over contemporary debates over borders. What is largely missing in the field is a focus on the non-human aspect of the border and post-human ethics. The pressing question here is whether we can be critical enough, if we insist on presenting the border from a human perspective. The contemporary scholarship is all-too-human because it sinks too much within the contemporary crisis of humanity, and as a result, life and death on the border are solely seen as a tragedy of the human. With an aim to address the shortcomings of contemporary debates in border studies, this paper will examine the complex relationship between the human and the non-human (both in organic and non-organic forms) on borderlands. It will explore the ecological impacts of three bordering technologies: walls, fences and enclosures, and examine the agency of wildlife as an important actor in the political ecology of the border.

    Bio: Dr. Umut Ozguc is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in International Ethics at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra. She is a cross-disciplinary scholar working on critical security and border studies, migration, settler colonialism, resistance, and posthumanism. Currently, she is completing her book on border politics, and working on a research project on the ecological impacts of border walls. Umut holds a BA in International Relations from Ankara University, and a MA (Research) in Politics and International Relations from the University of New South Wales. She completed her doctoral research on border politics in 2017. She previously worked as a researcher and a lecturer at several universities including the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, and Sydney University.

  • Panel 6: Gendered Resilience at the Border

    Moderator: Federica Bono

    Smuggling and Solidarity: the Case of Las Matuteras in the Gibraltar/Spain Border Region. Federica Bono, Old Dominion University.

    Abstract: This presentation discusses preliminary research findings on the role of Las Matuteras in post-war Spain in navigating illicit and solidarity relations. In a context of hunger and scarcity, these women crossed the border with Gibraltar to obtain food, medicines, coffee, or tobacco and smuggle it across the border into Spain. In an environment where male civil guards were not allowed to touch women, they used their bodies and clothing to hide these items. While men formed part of larger logistical smuggling operations aimed at personal enrichment and thus frowned upon, women’s smuggling activities were seen as necessary and lifesaving. Moreover, in their intersection with existing community relations within in the many patios de vecinos (multi-family buildings with communitarian living), the illicit actions of las matuteras are transformed into solidarity relations and relations of care, almost converting them into ‘a mother figure’ for the community.


    Bio: Federica Bono is a lecturer of Geography at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She holds a PhD of Geography from the University of Leuven, a MSc in Geography from the University of Leuven and a MSc in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Birmingham (UK). Her research studies the ways that people try to survive on a daily basis, informally and in solidarity with each other. Previously, she studied the informal and solidary economy in Cuba’s food system. Her most recent project focuses on resilience and cross-border relations in the Gibraltar/Spain border region.

    Voces y tropos en el cine documental sobre el cierre de la verja de Gibraltar. Alonso Varo Varo, Christopher Newport University.

    Abstract: El cierre de la Verja entre España y Gibraltar desde el año 1969 al 1982 tuvo consecuencias drásticas a ambos lados de la frontera. El régimen franquista

    decretó el cierre de la Verja en respuesta a una serie de desencuentros políticos con el Reino Unido y la consiguiente entrada en vigor de la nueva Constitución gibraltareña, aprobada en 1968. Con el cierre de la verja, Gibraltar quedó totalmente aislada por tierra y numerosas familias quedaron divididas entre el territorio gibraltareño y la ciudad fronteriza de La Línea.


    En esta presentación analizaré los documentales La Roca (2011) del cineasta español Raúl Santos y Gibraltar, My Rock (2010) de la directora gibraltareña Ana García en contraste con la versión oficial del Estado español plasmada en los documentales del No-Do. En mi estudio, compararé el uso de la voz y la perspectiva documental, primordialmente femeninas, para mostrar los diferentes modos de resistencia al discurso patriarcal que presentan Santos y García en sus obras. Por último, examinaré los tropos discursivos subyacentes en estos documentales para entender sus diferentes aproximaciones a las relaciones fronterizas entre España y Gibraltar. 

    Bio: Alonso Varo Varo is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Christopher Newport University. He holds bachelors degrees from University of Cádiz and University of Granada (Spain). He completed his graduate studies at Villanova University (M.A.) and Vanderbilt University (Ph.D.).


    Professor Varo's research is interdisciplinary and focuses into several overlapping areas of interest: the aesthetics of the narrative genre in the Spanish twentieth and twenty first-century, representations of the tragic, the limits of language, postmodernism, and identity theory. His most recent project focuses on the literature and cinema of the Gibraltar/Spain border region.

    Prácticas laborales y autonomía femenina en Mujer alabastrina (1998) de Víctor Bartoli. Perla Abrego, University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

    Abstract: Mujer alabastrina refleja una época decisiva para la frontera norte mexicana: el auge en la industria maquiladora en Ciudad Juárez y el momento en que las mujeres se apropian del espacio fronterizo, en su papel de obreras, y transgreden los límites de la cultura patriarcal. Esa osada transgresión da lugar a una ola de feminicidios y violencia doméstica. Las protagonistas de la novela, como las mujeres juarenses de la época, abogan por un espacio propio con libre acceso a la estabilidad emocional y al empoderamiento económico. En ese espacio, aún dominado por los hombres, las protagonistas coexisten y hacen vida en común creando un lugar propio, articulado, habitable, comprensible y dialógico. En este trabajo exploro la performatividad y precariedad femeninas, propuestas por Judith Butler, en el ámbito laboral de las protagonistas y en el espacio fronterizo. La precariedad se induce en los márgenes de la identidad, esto es, hace que el reconocimiento social que suscita la performatividad se vea amenazado. De ahí que la precariedad esté presente en los discursos identitarios de las protagonistas, advirtiendo los riesgos de la performatividad femenina en espacios fronterizos.

    Bio: Perla Ábrego is an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Texas Permian Basin. She received a PhD degree in Spanish and Hispanic Literature from Vanderbilt University in 2011. Her research work focuses on Mexican border literature and border theory. In her research and publications, she explores the presence of the US-Mexico border from the geographical, historical, and symbolic perspective in contemporary literary texts.

    Haunting in Trump’s America: Border Specters in ire’ne lara silva’s Cuicacalli. Lauren Reynolds, Christopher Newport University.

    Abstract: ire’ne lara silva’s “Afterword” to her third and most recent collection of poetry, Cuicalli / House of Song (2019), consists of the keynote address she presented at the Chicana Arts and Activism Symposium in Topeka, Kansas. In it, she condemns human rights violations resulting from President Trump’s immigration policies, especially the inhumane treatment of immigrant women and children. She considers her voice as a Chicana woman, an activist, and an artist as she reflects upon the role her work can play in creating communities of resistance. She asks, “How do we go on? What do activism and art mean in our lives? Who are we without them? What do we owe to ourselves, our communities, our ancestors?” (95). The collection’s preceding poems respond to these questions. Writing from the US/Mexico Borderlands, lara silva employs spectral language to connect contemporary abuses to a history of trauma. Filled with ghostly figures, female deities, and healing songs of self-expression, the text weaves together personal experiences and global events. Her poems depict many sides of the Borderlands, even painting the region as a graveyard “soaked with blood.” I argue that her work ultimately explores forgiveness and the process of uncovering humanity within this space (80).

    Bio: Lauren K. Reynolds is a lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Christopher Newport University.  There, she teaches courses in US Latinx cultures, service learning, and Spanish grammar and composition.  She earned her Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Virginia, where she was a Jefferson Scholar, a Makerspace technologist, and a volunteer for the International Rescue Committee.  Her research comparatively studies ghosts, women writers, and processes of cultural change in migrant communities.  Her most recent project analyzes how specters can represent social trauma and communal healing in texts of migration.

    Trafficking borders: Control and Subversions. Ayushman Bhagat, Durham University.

    Abstract: ‘Human Trafficking’ is one of the most politically charged categories of the 21st century. While the liberal notions of freedom seems to be the ontological ground for the abolitionists who typically rely on the criminal justice responses to combat this ‘evil’ (Bales, 1999), the critical scholars, in response to the selective remembering and forgetting of these abolitionists (O'Connell Davidson, 2015), gives ontological primacy to exploitation and highlight a continuum of the same to be addressed (Skrivankova, 2010; McGrath and Strauss, 2017). However, I argue that any agenda-based debate on human trafficking, whether dominant or counter, is a bordering process, an attempt to control, dominate, and shape human mobilities, either in the name of freedom or exploitation which complicates people's lives at various scales by placing their mobilities into double R axiom of ‘rights and representations’ (Papadopoulos, Stephenson and Tsianos, 2008). Drawing on a recently completed Participatory Action Research, in a 'post-disaster' and 'human trafficking' prone region of Nepal, which led to a multi-site border ethnography, I develop a concept of ‘trafficking borders’. This paper will empirically propose three ways of looking at trafficking borders. First, by historicizing women’s mobilities and the subsequent bordering practices as its ‘constitutive other’ from a trafficking prone area of Nepal, I highlight the ever-transforming multiple non-exclusive ‘polymorphic’ (Burridge et al., 2017) nature of trafficking borders which has taken up a variety of forms, agents, sites, practices and targets. Second, by analysing the agents and their practices backed by dominant and counter-narratives of trafficking as bordering processes, I discuss ‘penumbral’ (Paasi and Zimmerbauer, 2016) nature of the borders which manifests only in certain practices for certain people. Finally, by mapping the perception of women directly affected by this bordering process, I empirically highlight how these unjust borders configured by the forces of control are regularly subverted and transgressed by women’s mobilities which are often problematized in the name of Trafficking.


    Bio: Ayushman Bhagat is a final year PhD Candidate in Human Geography Department at Durham University. Before enrolling as a research postgraduate, he worked in the development sector of India where and explored issues related to human trafficking, forced/bonded labour at the policy level – with the ILO and Government departments, and assisted several communities in the evolution of self-governing institutions in and around wildlife sanctuaries at the grassroots level – with NGOs. His thesis combines both these experiences and broadly examines how migratory mobilities produces, encounters, and escapes different political subjectivities of rightlessness, exploitation, and oppression in a ‘post-disaster’ and ‘human trafficking’ prone region of the global South.

Conference Schedule
  • October 24, 2019 - Residencial Inn & Suites (Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico)

    9:00 am Inauguración
    9:30-10:20 am

    Dr. Rodolfo Cruz Piñeiro | Colegio de la Frontera Norte de Tijuana

    Las fronteras como un espacio de control y dinamismo: nuevos escenarios de la migración en México.

    10:40-11:00 am

    Mtro. Fernando Alexis Meza Méndez | Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

    Sonidos de dos Hermanos: Análisis de las principales corrientes musicales en Las diferentes zonas fronterizas entre
    México y Estados Unidos.

    11:00-11:20 am Receso
    11:20-11:40 am

    Profr. Oshiel Martínez Chapa & Profr. Jorge Eduardo Salazar Castillo | Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

    La Frontera México-Estados Unidos: Una aproximación a su abordaje histórico y teórico.

    11:40-12:00 pm

    Dr. Enoc Alejandro García Rivera | CONACYT-Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

    Fuentes fijas emisoras de compuestos orgánicos volátiles en la frontera de México y Estados Unidos. Su atención pública
    desde los gobiernos locales fronterizos.

    12:00-12:20 pm

    Dr. Héctor Manuel Capello García | Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

    Alteridades de la identidad nacional como efecto de la globalización.

    12:20-12:40 pm

    Dra. Fabiola Manyari López Bracamonte | El Colegio de la Frontera Sur de México

    Resiliencia comunitaria del pueblo maya-chuj tras la violencia y desplazamiento de 1980.

  • October 25, 2019 - The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (Edinburg, Texas)

    7:30 am Breakfast & Conference Registration
    8:10-8:20 am Opening Remarks
    Dr. Dennis Hart, Associate Vice President
    Office of Global Engagement
    8:30-10:00 am Panels 1 & 2
    10:00-10:10 am Break
    10:10-11:15 am

    Keynote Speaker:
    “What Does it Mean to Resist Borders”
    Dr. Maurice Stierl, Leverhulme Fellow
    University of Warwick

    11:15-11:25 am Break
    11:25-12:55 pm Panel 3 & Roundtable
    1:00-2:00 pm

    Dr. Parwinder Grewal, Executive Vice President
    Division of Research, Graduate Studies & New Program Development

    Art Exhibit: Borderlands Art Pedagogy in the Rio Grande Valley
    Christen Sperry-Garcia, Lilia Cabrera, Brian Dick, Camilo Garza,
    Alyssa Rangel, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

    2:00-3:00 pm Plenary Talk:
    “The Right to Host/Right to Remain: Sanctuary and refugee Solidarity”
    Dr. Sunaina Maira
    UC Davis, Comparative Border Studies Program
    3:00-3:10 pm Break
    3:10-4:40 pm Panel 4 & Roundtable
    4:40-4:45 pm Break
    4:45-6:15 pm Panels 5 & 6
    6:15-7:30 pm

    Dr. Patricia M. Alvarez McHatton, Executive Vice President
    Division of Academic Affairs

    Closing Remarks
    Dr. Caroline Miles, Office of Global Engagement Border Studies Coordinator


  • McAllen International Airport (MFE)
    • McAllen International Airport is the closest airport to the conference location.

A shuttle will be available to the conference hotel that is listed below. 


Use the following link to access the Conference Rate Booking Portal: 
Group Booking Link Holiday Inn Express Edinburg - UTRGV Border Studies Conference

Please contact the Hotel Reservation Representative for questions regarding booking:

John Rodriguez

Cell: (832) 549-5901

General Location - Edinburg Campus

Campus Map - Edinburg

Border Studies Conference 

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  • Dr. Maurice Stierl, Leverhulme Fellow, University of Warwick, speaks during the 4th Annual International Conference on Border Studies organized by the UTRGV Office of Global Engagement

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  • UTRGV students taking notes from the Conference on Border Studies.

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  • UTRGV students diligently taking notes as the speakers continue throughout the conference.
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Attendees at the 4th Annual International Conference on Border Studies.


  • Several UTRGV students in attendance. 


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