Migration Webinar Series: Latin America and the U.S.

Millions of people every year are forcibly displaced from their homes. Because of the extent of the phenomenon throughout the Americas today, migration is seen by politicians and lawmakers as a problem that needs regulation and control. This symposium examines human stories of displacement and the histories, relationships, and interests underlying the politicization of migration in the Americas.

Panelists will examine what makes migration unique in regions throughout Central, North and South America. They will provide historical, political and socio-cultural analysis to examine the contexts of immigration in these regions. In particular, we will focus on:

  • The current refugee crisis in Central America, and Venezuela;
  • The experiences of migrant women and children detained in U.S. detention centers;
  • Migration and labor in the Midwest;
  • What might U.S. immigration reform look like in the future?

Driven by violence, migration faces militarization and criminalization, which is accompanied by social dispossession of indigenous and poor communities, transnational capital involvement, and results in the shifting of sexual and gender relations.

Fall 2020 Migration Seminar Registration Form

If you would like to attend this fall, virtual workshop, please register below.
    Please select each of the presentations you plan to attend.


New Steps, Old Routes

Migration in the Americas

Wednesdays, 4:00 to 5:30 pm CT

September 9: Gender, Sexuality, and Migration in the Americas

Welcome by LACIS Director Kata Beilin; Moderator, Associate Professor of Geography Jenna Loyd;  Speakers, Eithne Luibheid, Sandibel Borges and Dario Valles.

Our first seminar, “Gender, Sexuality, and Migration in the Americas”, features panelists Sandibel Borges (Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, Loyola Marymount University), Eithne Luibhéid (Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Arizona) and Dario Valles (ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow, Columbia University, Dept. of Anthropology, Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality) in conversation with moderator Jenna Loyd, Associate Professor of Geography at UW-Madison.

Migration policy and infrastructures of enforcement—from visas to borders to detention facilities—are entangled with gendered and sexualized power relations. Feminist, queer, and trans scholarship have demonstrated that sex, gender, and sexuality are key arenas through which to understand state policy and practice, neocolonial patterns of labor migration, the politics of inclusion and exclusion, and much more. Contributors to this panel will share field-advancing scholarship on the centrality of gender and sexuality for people on the move, migration politics, and technologies of migration control. Their centering of feminist and queer analyses broadens understandings of the stakes and terms of contemporary debates over mobility, migration policy, and citizenship.

September 16: Women, Youth, and Violence in the Borderlands

Welcome by CLACS Director Natasha Borges Sugiyama (Associate Professor of Political Science, UW-Milwaukee)

Speaker/Moderator: Kristin Pitt (CLACS Fellow, Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies and French, Italian & Comparative Literature, UW-Milwaukee), “An Impossible Story to Tell: Representing Feminicide in Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders

Speaker: Cynthia Bejarano (Regents Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, New Mexico State University) & Ma. Eugenia (Maru) Hernández Sánchez (Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez), “The Migrant as Encounter: Constructing a Duality of ‘Other’ness along the U.S.-Mexico Border”

How do we represent the experiences of migration and living in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands? This panel examines competing discourses of migrants and the border and how these shape our ability to understand the region or characterize the experiences of migrants in art, academia, and conversation.


Pitt:  This talk examines Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s 2005 detective novel, a prominent work of contemporary Chicana literature depicting the ongoing epidemic of feminicide in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Since its publication, Desert Blood has been celebrated for its use of what Gaspar de Alba has called the “anti-detective novel” to portray the successful rescue of a kidnapped and nearly-murdered teenager through the combined efforts of a queer and feminist community. However, as some scholars have also noted, the teenaged girl who is rescued is a U.S. citizen, setting up a problematic dynamic in the novel whereby U.S. citizens cross the border to rescue other U.S. citizens while unnamed and unrescued Mexican women and girls continue to die. I explore the ways in which generic requirements of both the detective novel and sentimental fiction drive Desert Blood toward this unsatisfactory conclusion, allowing U.S. citizens to benefit from the productive and reproductive capacities of Mexican women in ways similar to those that the novel condemns.

Bejarano/Hernández Sánchez: In the present talk, we will discuss disparate constructions (Sandoval, 2000) of the migrant imaginary (Schmidt-Camacho, 2007) at the U.S.-Mexico border.  Popular competing constructions of migrants do not capture the urgent and emergent (Laddaga, 2006) migrant narratives that are surfacing at the border.  Our guiding question for this talk is how do we address the dual construction of migrants in Mexico and in the U.S., while migration remains a constant series of encounters and experiences that enter and exit such dual constructs  of (mis)conceptions?  We situate our discussion accordingly between an academic analysis and an intimate space of pláticas (Flores-Carmona, Hamzeh, Bejarano, Hernandez Sanchez and El Ashmawi, 2018) that escape fixed constructions of knowledge regarding migrants and borders.

September 23: Panel on Central America

Refugees from the Central American states of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are currently leaving their countries in record number. Citing unprecedented levels of violence and precarity due to the presence of complex criminal organizations, an ineffective system of law and security, dim economic opportunities, and weak social welfare structures, refugees from these countries move north with the hope that there may be more stable and secure conditions elsewhere. Neighboring countries have witnessed asylum applications rise four-fold in the last few years, leading some asylum granting countries of the region—the United States in particular—to implement restrictive refugee and immigration protocol. Panelists on this program explore all aspects of this dynamic—from the contextual elements that force movement, to the experiences that refugees negotiate on their path, to the dehumanizing state responses. The goal of this panel is to give audience members a closer look at the shifting nature of migration in the region.

September 30: Crossing U.S. Borders

October 7: Providing Legal Services to Women and Children Seeking Asylum in Detention

A group of second and third year law students along with the Director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School will describe their volunteer work at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. They volunteered for a week with women and children in a detention center to help them prepare for Credible Fear Interviews, one of the first steps in the asylum process. They will describe the current state of detention and the new regulatory asylum bars that have almost closed our southern border to all asylum seekers.

October 14: Trends in Immigration Reform

October 21: Panel on transnational migrations to the Americas and on Venezuela

October 28: South-South Migration

November 4: Afro-Latin American Migration Stories

November 11: Immigration from LA to the Midwest

November 18: Wisconsin/Milwaukee Ties

LACIS Organizational Committee: Janel Anderson, Erin Barbato, Lesley Bartlett, Kata Beilin (Director), Laura Bunn, Armando Ibarra, Carolyn Kallenborn, Michael Light, Jenna Loyd, Benjamin Marquez, Sara McKinnon, Jenna Nobles, Anju Reejhsinghani, Sarah Ripp, Hernando Rojas, Alberto Vargas, Emmerich Mager

CLACS Organizational Committee: Julie Kline, Natasha Borges Sugiyama, Rachel Bloom-Pojar, Rachel Buff, Anne Dressel, Kristin Pitt, Chia Vang

More details coming soon!

Sandibel Borges

Sandibel Borges is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Ph.D. in Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and was faculty in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire from 2017 to 2019. Her work investigates how heteronormativity, white supremacy, and exploitation are naturalized and institutionalized within migration processes, and their impact on Latinx LGBTQ migrants in Los Angeles, California and Mexico City, Mexico. Using oral histories and ethnography, Sandibel then examines the concepts of hope, survival, home, and queer family and friendship in the everyday lives of her participants/narrators.

Dr. Borges’s work has appeared in Women’s Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Lesbian Studies, Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, and Diálogo.

Noelle Brigden

Noelle Brigden, Ph.D. (Cornell 2013) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Marquette University, where she teaches courses on international relations, human security, international migration, and politics of street gangs. She was a 2018-2018 Visiting Research Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and held a 2013-2014 postdoctoral fellowship at the Watson Institute for International Studies. Her current project compares and contrasts the social imagination of multiple borders, including boundaries imposed by nation-states, street gangs and gated communities, in urban El Salvador, and their implications for citizenship.

Alfredo Carlos

Dr. Alfredo Carlos was born in Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico and grew up in the Harbor Area of Los Angeles in a working-class immigrant community. As immigrants he and his family, like many other immigrants and working people lived in a barrio, experiencing life as people who were working poor. This experience of living in poverty has come to influence and to a large extent define his work as a scholar, an activist, a mentor and a father. He is a proud product of California public school systems. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine where he specialized in the fields of Political Economy, Political theory, and American Racial and Urban Politics. He earned his M.A. in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach with a focus in Comparative Politics and International Relations and his B.A. is in History and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Carlos is currently a Faculty member in Political Science and Chicano and Latino Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He is also the Executive Director of the Foundation for Economic Democracy. His articles have appeared in Latin American Perspectives and Ethnicities. He is the co-author of The Latino Question (Pluto, 2018). His research and teaching interests are in Latino political economy, economic democracy, labor, inequality, immigration, race/ethnicity, and social movements in the U.S. and Mexico/Latin America.

Lauren Heidbrink

Lauren Heidbrink is a cultural anthropologist who focuses on the anthropology of childhood and migration in Central America. Her research and teaching interests include childhood and youth, transnational migration, performance and identity, engaged methodologies, and Central America. Her manuscript, Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the State: Care and Contested Interests (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), examines the experiences of migrant children in U.S. federal facilities for unaccompanied children and following release. With support of the National Science Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, her forthcoming manuscript Migranthood: Youth in a New Era of Deportation (Stanford University Press, 2020) examines the impacts of the securitization of development on indigenous Guatemalan youth (Mam and K’iche’) following deportation from the U.S. and Mexico. Dr. Heidbrink is co-founder and editor of Youth Circulations, a curated digital exhibit tracing the real and imagined circulations of global youth.

Jens Manuel Krogstad

Jens Manuel Krogstad is a senior writer and editor at Pew Research Center. He has authored or edited hundreds of studies on topics that include global migration, Latino public opinion, Hispanic demographic trends and U.S. border enforcement. Prior to joining Pew Research Center, Krogstad spent nine years as a reporter at newspapers such as The Des Moines Register and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Krogstad regularly talks with the media about the Center’s findings in both English and Spanish.

Eithne Luibhéid

Eithne Luibhéid is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona (UA). She served as the Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies at UA from 2007-2011. She holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and her research focuses on the connections among queer lives, state immigration controls, and justice struggles. She has been an invited speaker at universities including Harvard, Oxford, the Open University, the University of Amsterdam, and the National University of Singapore.

Luibhéid’s current book manuscript, ‘Why Don’t They Just Get in Line?’ Immigration, Deportability, and Queer Intimacies, explores how deportability is being extended and resisted through intimate ties between undocumented migrants and U.S. citizens. With Karma Chávez, she is co-editing Queer Migrations 2: Illegalization, Detention and Deportation (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming). She is also editing a special issue of the Journal of Lesbian Studies on “Lives That Resist Telling: Migrant and Refugee Lesbians.” Luibhéid participates in a research collaboration, “Managing Citizenship, Security, and Rights,” organized by Dr. Anne Marie D’Aoust at the Université de Québec in Montreal, Canada, and serves as the Social Sciences Review editor for the journal GLQ.

Douglas Haynes

Professor of English, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
UWM CLACS Regional Faculty Associate & UW Madison CHE Community Associate
Author of Every Day We Live Is the Future: Surviving in a City of Disasters (U of Texas Press, 2017)


Wendy Vogt

Wendy Vogt, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis


Rachel Ida Buff

CLACS Fellow, Professor, History UW-Milwaukee; “A is for Asylum Seeker: Words for People on the Move”

Adam Goodman

Assistant Professor, Latin American & Latino Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago; “Deportation without Due Process: The American Way”

Nicole Ramos

Refugee Program Director, Al Otro Lado

The Conference on Migration: Latin America and the U.S. is sponsored by the Latin American Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

lacis.wisc.edu • lacis@lacis.wisc.edu • 608-262-2811
Ingraham Hall, Room 209, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

uwm.edu/clacs/ • clacs@uwm.edu • (414) 229-4401
2025 E. Newport Avenue, NWQ Building B, Room 2479, Milwaukee, WI

Please contact emager@wisc.edu with any questions.