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ASU to celebrate new Comparative Border Studies Program

map of borders
September 29, 2011

The community is invited to a ceremony and lectures, Oct. 13, to officially launch Arizona State University’s new Comparative Border Studies Program, affiliated with the School of Transborder Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Comparative Border Studies is a new interdisciplinary, nonpartisan research program that aims to inspire scholarship and public discussion about the cultures and communities created and challenged by geopolitical boundaries. The scope will include colloquia, public events and a fellows program throughout the academic year. Matthew J. Garcia, professor of transborder studies and history at ASU, directs the program.

“The heart of Comparative Borders Studies will be the events and colloquia series that bring scholars, artists, and the public together to discuss and debate issues pertaining to geopolitic borders that influence the lives of so many people. We believe there is much to be gained by sharing our knowledge of the U.S.-Mexican borderlands while learning from those working on other borders,” said Garcia.

“Our goal is to facilitate productive exchanges that welcome all political views and encourage research on this subject in all disciplines,” added Garcia, who joined ASU this fall from Brown University. He has a joint appointment in the School of Transborder Studies and the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

“Under the direct leadership of Dr. Matt Garcia, the Comparative Borders Studies Program will become a unique institution in its configuration as a center where border scholars from around the world may be afforded the opportunity for study, writing, and developing new ideas, concepts and measures designed to address the most salient issues of this new century,” said Carlos Vélez-Ibañez, director of the School of Transborder Studies.

The Oct. 13 launch is scheduled from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the MU, Alumni Lounge (room 202) on ASU’s Tempe campus. It will include welcome remarks by Linda C. Lederman, dean of social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and a program introduction by Garcia. The event will include lectures by Katherine Benton-Cohen and Luis Alberto Urrea, and a noon luncheon.

Benton-Cohen, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, is the author of “Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands,” which uses Cochise County, Arizona, to examine the history of race in America.

Urrea, a Pulitzer Prize nonfiction finalist, is a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame. He is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. “The Devils Highway,” his 2004 nonfiction account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, won the 2004 Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize.

The Oct. 13 series of events will open a year of activities with the theme, “The Border We Think We Know: Arizona-Sonora.”
The launch ceremony and lectures are free and open to the public. Seating is limited and registration is required. Registration and ceremony information are online at or at 480-965-5091.

Irma Arboleda,

Carol Hughes,
480-965-6375 direct line | 480-254-3753 cell