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Roundtable discussion to explore human landscape of the borderlands

February 25, 2013

We make sense of the places we live through the stories we tell about ourselves, our place, our past, and our future.

"A Storied Landscape" brings together artists, activists and scholars to explore the role of storytelling in creating identity, understanding and sense of place in the borderlands. During this roundtable discussion, panelists will explore the human landscape of the borderlands through personal and family stories, poetry and performance. It is organized through the collaborative efforts of ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research, the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, and the Comparative Border Studies Program.

Featured speakers:

• Katherine Benton-Cohen, an Arizona native and third-generation southwesterner, is an associate professor of history at Georgetown University and author of numerous works that examine race and labor in the Arizona borderlands, including "Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands in 2009."  Her current research examines the history of the U.S. Congress’s Dillingham Commission, which conducted a massive study of immigration in the early twentieth century. Its findings paved the way for the immigration restrictions of the 1920s that ended mass migration to the United States until the 1960s.

•Teresa Leal, long-time community activist from “Ambos Nogales,” is a Sonora native who has worked on multiple public health and social and environmental justice issues on both sides of the border in southern Arizona. Leal has served as co-chair of the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, and is the founder of Comadres (Co-Mothers), a group of American and Mexican women working to empower women to seek solutions for labor, environmental, and economic problems resulting from maquiladoras and gender and environmental injustices along the border. She is also curator and educator at the Pimería Alta Historical Society in Nogales, Ariz.

• Sarah Amira de la Garza, associate professor and Southwest Borderlands Scholar at ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Her work stresses the performance of personal and ethnic identity, uses of performance, ritual, and deep reflexive practices in auto/ethnographic research, with a commitment to uncovering ways to stimulate critical thinking on the road to change and recovery from habituated patterns of interactions and addiction. Her body of work includes the 2004 book "Maria Speaks: Journeys through the Mysteries of the Mother in My Life as a Chicana."

• Simon Ortiz, Regents' Professor in ASU’s Department of English, is an Indigenous poet and writer of Acoma Pueblo heritage who specializes in Indigenous literature. With literary perspective as a guide he examines the decolonization of Indigenous people’s land, culture and community and the cultural, social and political dynamics of Indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America. 

• Joni Adamson is an associate professor of English and environmental humanities at ASU, senior research scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability, and director of the ASU Environmental Humanities Certificate. Her varied research interests include environmental literature and literary criticism, critical environmental justice studies, American Southwest literature and film, and folklore. She has published broadly on issues of environmental justice, food sovereignty, and Indigenous rights in the American Southwest. 

This event is free and open to the public; space is limited. For more information and to RSVP, visit