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The Land of Open Graves: Photographs from the Undocumented Migration Project Pop-Up Exhibition

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
12:00 AM
Institute for the Humanities, 202 S. Thayer, Osterman Common Room

Note: Exhibition is open M-F, 9am-5pm.

This pop-up exhibition features Michael Wells' original photographs of Jason De Leon's Undocumented Migration Project, which was the subject of a 2013 exhibition at the Institute for the Humanities gallery. The photographs were featured in De León's new book The Land of Open Graves Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail.

About the book:

In his gripping and provocative debut, anthropologist Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policy.  The Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and deaths that occur daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

Drawing on the four major fields of anthropology, De León uses an innovative combination of ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, and forensic science to produce a scathing critique of “Prevention through Deterrence,” the federal border enforcement policy that encourages migrants to cross in areas characterized by extreme environmental conditions and high risk of death. For two decades, this policy has failed to deter border crossers while successfully turning the rugged terrain of southern Arizona into a killing field.

In harrowing detail, De León chronicles the journeys of people who have made dozens of attempts to cross the border and uncovers the stories of the objects and bodies left behind in the desert. The Land of Open Graves will spark debate and controversy.  –University of California Press

About Michael Wells:

Michael Wells has served as the primary photographer for the Undocumented Migration Project since its inception in 2009 and has photographed that project’s ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork in Arizona, New York, Mexico, and Ecuador. A Los Angeles-based photographer, his work focuses on how people engage with built and natural environments with a unique eye for the materiality of these spaces. He has created photography projects on post-Katrina New Orleans, the physicality of the US-Mexico border in Southern Arizona and California, amateur Latino soccer leagues in Los Angeles, and Latino Communities in the American South. His diverse body of work has been featured in a wide range of media outlets including Architectural Digest, Archaeology Magazine, Domus, Dwell, Cabinet, National Geographic, National Public Radio, and Textfield. His book publications include Municipal De Futbol (2008) Denim Legends (2008), The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills (2009), and Windsor Smith Homefront (2015).

About Jason De Leon:

Jason De León is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and director of the Undocumented Migration Project, a long-term anthropological study of clandestine border crossings between Mexico and the United States. His academic work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including National Public Radio, the New York Times Magazine, Al Jazeera magazine, The Huffington Post, and Vice magazine. In 2013, De León was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.