UA faculty members have launched an innovative project, "The Documented Border," detailing the everyday realities, threats and challenges faced by Mexican journalists and migrants. The project has resulted in a new digital archive, which includes sketches of migrants processed in accelerated Operation Streamline court proceedings, as photography is prohibited in federal court. (Illustration by Lawrence Gipe)
UA faculty members have launched an innovative project, "The Documented Border," detailing the everyday realities, threats and challenges faced by Mexican journalists and migrants. The project has resulted in a new digital archive, which includes sketches of migrants processed in accelerated Operation Streamline court proceedings, as photography is prohibited in federal court. (Illustration by Lawrence Gipe)

New Digital Archive Details Challenges for Mexican Journalists, Migrants

The UA Libraries will host a new exhibition and event to launch a digital archive of "The Documented Border," which is part of a larger project involving journalism and art faculty and digital archivists.
Oct. 7, 2014
Extra Info: 

"Historical Perspectives on Central American Immigration," by Martha Few, an associate professor in the UA Department of History, will be held Nov. 5, 6-8 p.m. in Special Collections.

What: 
"The Documented Border"
When: 
On display through Dec. 19
Where: 
UA Special Collections
"The Documented Border" includes a new exhibit, which opened Oct. 3 and runs through Dec. 19. (Illustration by Lawrence Gipe)
"The Documented Border" includes a new exhibit, which opened Oct. 3 and runs through Dec. 19. (Illustration by Lawrence Gipe)

An innovative, open-access archive documenting personal stories of journalists who have been silenced, and also government processes that cannot be videotaped or photographed, is being introduced at the University of Arizona.

Called "The Documented Border," the digital archive includes original border-related research material collected and curated by UA faculty along the U.S.-Mexico border, representing a unique resource for researchers, scholars and others interested in developing a deeper understanding and awareness of the border and its people.

"Although a few academic libraries have border studies archives, this project is producing a collection of material simply not found anywhere else," said Verónica Reyes-Escudero, the borderlands curator at Special Collections. The goal of the archive, she said, is to grow with new content.

An opening event and exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in Room 120 of the Integrated Learning Center, 1500 E. University Blvd., to offically launch the digital archive. Luis Alberto Urrea, a Mexican-American poet, novelist, essayist and author of the national best-seller and Pulitzer Prize finalist "The Devil's Highway," is the keynote speaker.

A book signing and reception will follow Urrea's talk at Special Collections, 1510 E. University Blvd.

In addition to Reyes-Escudero, the digital archive's contributors include Celeste González de Bustamante and Jeannine Relly of the Center for Border and Global Journalism and the School of Journalism; Lawrence Gipe of the School of Art; and Erika Castaño, a digital archivist with the UA Libraries. The yearlong collaborative project was funded by the UA's Confluencecenter for Creative Inquiry.

The exhibit, which opened Oct. 3 and will be on display through Dec. 19, and the digital archive will incorporate art, oral history, media testimonies and archival preservation along the border.

The publicly available digital archive — from which the sketches and audio in the physical exhibit were selected —includes original research material donated to Special Collections by González de Bustamante, Relly and Gipe. Initial contributions include more than 35 interviews with journalists and human-rights activists who cover northern Mexico and who report under threats of violence, an environment that has led to self-censorship.

In the study, "Silencing Mexico: A Study of Influences on Journalists in the Northern States," published in November 2013, Relly and González de Bustamante found that many Mexican journalists face a daily fear of intimidation threats and assassinations, ranking Mexico as one of the most dangerous places in the world for reporters to work.

"They are witnesses to activities and uncovering information that these groups do not want to be made public," Relly said after the study was published in the International Journal of Press/Politics. "And that's one of the reasons that they've become targets." 

The UA School of Journalism has launched several programs and initiatives to help build relationships with Mexican universities and to encourage the field of journalism south of the border. Efforts include sharing syllabi, organizing club activities and working on collaborative reporting, published by media such as the Border Journalism Network, a website that features students' multimedia news projects about the border.

Also, the new digital archive includes a collection of 32 sketches of migrants being processed in accelerated Operation Streamline court proceedings. As photography is prohibited in federal court, these sketches are perhaps the only visual representation of the people involved in these proceedings.

In addition to the research material, the exhibit includes archival material selected from Special Collections' extensive borderlands collections.

Aengus Anderson, the digital media producer for the UA Library, produced a video on the project: