'Crime, Justice, Border' event features scholars, artists, activists
Complex and controversial issues of crime, enforcement, security, and human rights will come into focus during the “Crime, Justice, and the Border” event to be held March 31 through April 2 at Arizona State University’s West campus. Additional activities will be held April 3 at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.
The sixth annual Border Justice Event at the West campus draws together leading experts from Mexico and the United States in a public forum format that is a hallmark of the campus’s culture. Central to the event is a multi-part policy symposium on “Violence and Human Rights Crises Along the Border.”
Symposium speakers include Luis Astorga and Jose Luis Velasco, researchers at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico whose work focuses on drug trafficking and government policy. Clara Jusidman, a researcher for the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights who led the 2004 national report on the murders of young women in Juarez, and Dr. Kathleen Staudt, the author of many books on border issues, also will share their research findings.
Along with the symposium’s scholarly conversations, interactive theatrical productions, film, and an interactive art project will provide engaging opportunities for audience participation. Award-winning playwright and ASU faculty member James Garcia’s participatory drama, “Operation Wetback,” explores the 1954 mass deportation of Mexican immigrants. New York City-based theater troupe Houses on the Moon will present an interactive performance, “De Novo Part I: Lil’ Silent,” which brings to the stage true stories of undocumented youth in United States custody.
“De Nadie,” one of the films to be screened at the event, is the story of a Central American immigrant's difficult journey to the United States in search for a better life. The film received the 2006 Silver Ariel award as best documentary from the Mexican Academy of Film. William Simmons, associate professor in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, calls “De Nadie” a “startling film that sheds light on an unknown part of the struggle of immigrants to come to this country.”
This year’s arts component also invites audience participation. Organizer and artist Judy Butzine of the Cultural Arts Coalition will facilitate “I’m Migration,” an interactive art project. “It’s a rare opportunity for audiences to explore border issues creatively at an experiential level,” says Michael Stancliff, a New College assistant professor of rhetoric. “This year’s arts offerings are particularly rich.”
“Crime, Justice, and the Border” organizers believe the serious public conversations these events offer come at a critical moment in the history of our border region. “Just as local headlines are documenting disputes between federal and county officials regarding the proper way to enforce immigration laws, this is a critical time to examine questions including how public perceptions of criminality influence immigration policy,” says Simmons, who has directed or co-directed the annual border justice series since its inception in 2003.
“The U.S.-Mexico border represents different things to different people,” Stancliff says. “For some, it’s a bridge to a new life; for others it’s a wall not to be penetrated by outsiders. And for many who have experienced its dark side, the border is a birthplace of crime, violence, and human rights abuses.”
Adds Simmons, “Our goal is to inform and educate the public while encouraging dialogue about immigration, smuggling, underground economies, human trafficking, drug wars and border violence. These issues have a profound impact on Arizona.”
All events associated with “Crime, Justice, and the Border” are free and open to the public. The schedule of events at ASU’s West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road, is:
Tuesday, March 31:
• “I’m Migration” interactive art project led by Judy Butzine of the Valley-based Cultural Arts Council; 2:00-5:00 p.m., Fletcher Library Lawn.
• Music by Shining Soul, 2:30 p.m., Fletcher Library Lawn.
• Music by Vanessa Atlantis, 3:30 p.m., Fletcher Library Lawn.
• Opening Ceremony and Artists Reception; 5:00-6:00 p.m., Fletcher Library Courtyard.
• Public Participatory Theatre on “Operation Wetback” by playwright and ASU faculty member James Garcia; 6:00 p.m., Fletcher Library Lawn.
• Film presentation: “De Nadie,” sponsored by No More Deaths and followed by Q&A with filmmaker Iliana Martinez; 7:00 p.m., University Center Building, La Sala ballroom.
Wednesday, April 1:
• “I’m Migration” interactive art project led by Judy Butzine of the Valley-based Cultural Arts Council; 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Fletcher Library Lawn.
• Symposium on “Violence and Human Rights Crises Along the Border, Part I,” with a panel discussion examining immigration, smuggling and human trafficking; 2:00-5:00 p.m., University Center Building, La Sala ballroom.
• “De Novo – Part 1: Lil’ Silent,” a play presented by New York-based Houses on the Moon Theatre Company; 7:00-9:30 p.m., University Center Building, La Sala ballroom.
Thursday, April 2:
• Symposium on “Violence and Human Rights Crises Along the Border, Part II,” with a panel discussion examining underground economies and border violence; 9:00-11:00 a.m., University Center Building, La Sala ballroom.
• Symposium on “Violence and Human Rights Crises Along the Border, Part III,” with a panel discussion examining responses of the human rights community; 1:00-4:00 p.m., University Center Building, La Sala ballroom.
• Film presentation: “Children in No Man’s Land,” followed by a discussion about the film with Kat Rodriguez from Derechos Humanos; 7:00 p.m., University Center Building, La Sala ballroom.
On Friday, April, 3, an arts symposium on critical border issues will be held on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. For more information about “Crime, Justice, and the Border,” visit http://west.asu.edu/borderjustice">http://west.asu.edu/borderjustice">http://west.asu.edu/borderjustice.