Experience Life on the Line
1-credit, 200-level travel seminar (TX 200A)
Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona
March 10-17, 2018
WHY THE BORDER?
The 2,000-mile division between the United States and Mexico is a place of intense contrasts
that defies textbook
portrayal. The landscape must be experienced personally to begin to understand what it has to reveal about power and
vulnerability in the context of economic greed and the politics of exclusion and race.
The US/Mexico borderlands are at once a place of encounter and separation, a paradox manifested by a wall that keeps
people in and keeps people out. Travelers in this course witness first-hand the struggles of identity on the border as we
examine the way that decisions made thousands of miles from the border directly impact the residents on either side of it. As
we travel along the border through the desert we will observe the consequences of the economics of border security, addiction,
and immigration laws.
This "Experience Life on the Line” travel seminar
(TX 200A) and its companion course “Life on the Line: Evolving Identity Formation on the U.S./Mexico Border” (IA 251) encourage a perspective that draws on the connection between the border and Upstate New York, considering labor industry needs and increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement authority. Students prepare for this journey with the on-campus course, which presents a clear picture of the way politics impact the daily lives of border residents in both countries.
The travel seminar links reality with theory and brings history to life. In the classroom, for example, we read about the Bowie High School lawsuit that kicked off the hyper-strengthening of the border wall near El Paso, Texas, and led to the fortified wall we know today that separates California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, from Mexico's counter states. We will visit the barrio where Bowie High School is with muralist and graffiti artist Cimi Alvarado.
We will climb to the top of a mountain as the sun rises to see where the wall ends
and the two countries become inseparable our last morning in El Paso. We will also visit with an asylum attorney, activists, and asylum seekers. In Tucson we will attend deportation hearings and meet with attorneys who dedicate their lives to advocacy for undocumented children and adults held in the private prison system in nearby Eloy and Florence.
Enrollment in the accompanying on-campus course “Life on the Line: Evolving Identity Formation on the U.S./Mexico Border” (IA 251, 3 credits),
completion of IA 251 in a previous semester, or completion of the fall 2015 Scribner Seminar course “Chaos Finds a Voice:
The Politics of Identity in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands.”
is a Teaching Professor of Spanish and border studies in the departments of World Languages & Literatures and International Affairs. After a decade-long career as a journalist, she earned masters and PhD degrees in Spanish literature from
Washington State University and SUNY Albany. For the past 15 years Professor Barnes has traveled extensively in the border region researching, recording stories, and writing about Mexicans impacted by drug violence and unfair and unsafe practices in North American Free Trade Agreement factories. At Skidmore, students in her border studies class learn about the impact of immigration legislation on labor and human rights.
María F. Lander
is an Associate Professor of Spanish and the Chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures. She specializes in Latin American Contemporary Narrative. She has published articles about the literary representations of drug trafficking in Mexico and Colombia in journals such as Revista Iberoamericana
, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos
, and Discourse.
Professor Lander teaches courses that explore the cultures surrounding the drug business in Latin America and the USA. She has authored the critical edition of Carlos Fuente’s novel Gringo viejo
, the recreation of Ambroise Bierce’s story of an “old gringo,” who dared to cross the border during the peak of the Mexican Revolution.
PRELIMINARY TRAVEL SCHEDULE
(subject to change)
March 10: Fly from NYC to El Paso. View of Mexico from the hilltops above the city to gain an understanding of the fluidity of the geographic connection of the two countries. Welcome dinner at Carlos and Mickey’s Mexican restaurant.
We begin the day with a walking tour with historian and author David Romo and end the day with a visit to Annunciation House, a migrant shelter that takes in hundreds of undocumented migrants a week.
Border Patrol ride-along, and evening mural walk and lecture led by artist and Chicano activist Cimi Alvarado.
Attorney Carlos Spector discusses his work seeking asylum for the most vulnerable undocumented citizens. We end the day connecting with a grass-roots advocacy group of asylum seekers.
Sunrise hike up Mount Cristo Rey, viewing both countries from the summit. ¡Adios, El Paso!
Drive to Río Rico along the border and end the day with a lecture from border author Todd Miller in Tucson.
March 15: We spend the day in Tucson, at the courthouse for deportation hearings, and with hand artist Gabriela Galup.
March 16: Visit the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona, and social worker Marla Conrad who works in Nogales, Mexico, with recently
deported individuals. We end the day with a desert walk along a migrant trail in Río Rico.
March 17: Drive from Río Rico to Tucson. Fly from Tucson back to NYC and return to campus.