11th Annual Jancie Monk Visiting Distinguished Professor Lecture
"A Crisis of Rights and Responsibility: Feminist Geopolitical Perspective on Latin American Refungees and Forced Migrants," presented by Rebecca Torres, professor of geography and the environment from University of Texas at Austin.
With the advent of the Trump presidency we are facing the most anti-refugee and immigrant administration in recent U.S. history. This follows on the heels of the Obama era, characterized by record deportations and severe U.S. policies of deterrence towards Latin American refugees in its own backyard. This aggressive expansion of U.S. Homeland Security migration control included: outsourcing enforcement to Mexico; re-introducing migrant family detention; increasing "family unit" raids; and accelerating immigration court hearings. These strategies of state deterrence and enforcement heightened vulnerability of asylum-seeking women and children from Mexico and Central America to human and legal rights abuses. Under the incipient Trump administration, these practices are increasing. In this talk Torres will use a feminist geopolitical approach to interrogate the intimate and embodied spaces of migration controls that ground the workings of the state in the normalized, routine, and informal practices of state officials and in the experiences of vulnerable yet resilient women and children refugees. Employing results from two mixed-methods transnational research projects, as well as personal experience as a volunteer, Torres critically examines the everyday state practices of U.S./Mexico migration enforcement in three spaces: border security spaces, legal spaces and carceral spaces. She invites contemplation of strategies that aid in resisting rights abuses and fostering responsibility, humanity and hospitality towards refugees and immigrants.
Rebecca Torres' research has focused on rural/community development and poverty reduction, with special emphases on migration, agricultural transformation and tourism in the context of globalization. Given the gendered nature and uneven effects of these processes, she has interests in feminist geography, gender, and children's geographies. Her work focuses on the lived experience on the ground by migrants and their families. Her work has employed quantitative and qualitative mixed methods, and she has sought to contribute new approaches involving narrative inquiry and participatory methods – the latter particularly with respect to activist/engaged research via collaborations with diverse scholars, development practitioners and activists.