Curator’s Choice: Jason De León and the Undocumented Migration Project
Jason De León is an anthropologist whose research interests include theories of violence and Latin American migration. He is the executive director of the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a long-term study of clandestine border crossing intended to understand the phenomenon in a variety of geographic contexts, particularly those of Northern Mexican border towns and the southern Mexico/Guatemala border.
Join the Fowler’s Chief Curator Matthew H. Robb and Jason De León for a discussion inspired by photographs of the Mexican border in 1920 from the LA Times archive— currently displayed in The Map and the Territory exhibition. Learn about De León’s research and recent travels as part of Hostile Terrain 94, an art project that brings together ca. 3,200 handwritten toe tags representing migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between mid-1990s and 2019.
Jason De León is professor of Anthropology and Chicana/o and Central American Studies at UCLA. He is executive director of the Undocumented Migration Project, a research-arts collective that seeks to raise awareness of the experiences of clandestine migrants; and president of the Board of Directors for the Colibri Center for Human Rights, a non-profit that seeks to identify and repatriate the remains of people who have died while migrating through the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. De León is the author of the award-winning book The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail (2015) and a 2017 MacArthur Fellow.
Matthew H. Robb has served as chief curator of the Fowler Museum since 2016. He oversees the museum’s diverse exhibitions and collections devoted to the ancient, traditional, and contemporary cultures of Africa, Native and Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific. Prior to joining the staff of the Fowler, he was the first curator of the Arts of the Americas at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Robb holds an undergraduate degree from Princeton University; a Master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin; and a PhD from Yale University.
Join curators for lively conversations about their passions and projects that inspire audiences to engage with different worldviews and find joy in the multiplicity of human experiences.
Image credit: Undocumented Migration Project, HostileTerrain 94, 2019. Installation shot, detail of Toe Tag Wall (Phillips Museum of Art, Franklin & Marshall College). Image courtesy UMP.