POSTPONED: Fleeing to Save Our Lives: Forced Migration and Militarized Strategy Against Organized Crime in northeast Mexico


Monday, April 6, 2020, 6:00pm


CGIS South, S216, 1730 Cambridge Street

Speaker: Séverine Durin, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS)

Moderator: Ieva Jusionyte, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Social Studies

One of the consequences of the militarized strategy against organized crime in Mexico is that thousands of people were forced to flee to protect their lives. However, in Mexico this is a reality denied by the authorities and under analyzed by academics, so Séverine Durin decided investigate it to understand and register it. She carried out a multisituated field work in the Valley of Texas, in mexican cities, to talked with displaced people. She also visited rural areas of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas states which were affected by armed violence and forced migration. This anthropological research reveals the most invisible consequences of generalized violence and forced displacement from northeast Mexico, and allows us to know in a sensitive way how the lives of displaced people were affected, and confronts us with the need to get involved in searching solutions.

Séverine Durin is Franco-Mexican (Paris, 1972). She has a master of economics and an Anthropologist PhD (Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle). She’s professor-researcher at CIESAS (Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology) since November 2003. She has led several research projects on indigenous people in the Monterrey metropolitan area and domestic workers in Latin America, and collaborated in the elaboration of law for indigenous rights in Nuevo León. Since 2015 she studies the relationship between public safety, human rights and forced displacement. She is currently coordinating a collective project on childhoods in contexts of chronic violence. Her most recent books are “¡Sálvese quien pueda! Violencia generalizada y desplazamiento forzado en el noreste de México” (CIESAS, 2019) and “Yo trabajo en casa. Trabajo del hogar de planta, género y etnicidad en Monterrey” (CIESAS, 2017). She belongs to the National System of Researchers since 2005 and the Mexican Academy of Sciences.

Ieva Jusionyte is assistant professor of anthropology and social studies at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of political-legal and medical anthropology, with a focus on the study of state power and the materiality of violence; law and criminalized livelihoods; discourses and infrastructures of security; technologies of injury; politics and ethics of representation; and ethnography as method and storytelling. Based on fieldwork in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay from 2008 to 2014, her first book, Savage Frontier: Making News and Security on the Argentine Border (University of California Press 2015), examines how local journalists both participate in and contest global and national security discourses and practices in a region portrayed as the hub of drug and human trafficking, contraband, and money laundering. Drawing on her professional background as a news reporter and experience of producing an investigative television program “Proximidad” in Argentina, the book probes politics and ethics of representation and knowledge production in ethnography and in journalism. In addition to the book, her work on the tri-border area has appeared in Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, Anthropological Quarterly, and Political and Legal Anthropology Review. Her second research project, supported by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, focuses on security infrastructures and emergency services along the border between Sonora and Arizona. Her new book, Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border (University of California Press, 2018), delves into the lives of first responders under heightened security on both sides of the wall ( Written from the perspective of Mexican and Mexican-American firefighters and paramedics, who work on the edges of two states–in an area, where the overlapping “wars” (on drugs, on terror, and on migration) have militarized both the built and the natural environment–the book reveals what happens when politics of wounding and ethics of rescue collide. The book was selected as the winner of the 2016 Public Anthropology competition. Articles based on this study have also been published in American Anthropologist and Anthropology Today. Besides scholarly journals, her research with emergency responders on the U.S.-Mexico border was featured in the popular press, including BBC and NPR, and she has written about it for The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian. Currently she is conducting fieldwork for her latest project, Firepower, a multi-sited ethnographic study that follows firearms as they move through legal and political regimes that compete to define their meaning and value–from gun shows and pawn shops in Texas and Arizona to shooting ranges, forensic labs, and public disarmament campaigns around Mexico. It is a social biography of a gun set against the cultural history and political economy of violence. Jusionyte is the editor of the California Series in Public Anthropology. She is a faculty associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and coordinates the Contemporary Latin American Anthropology Workshop (CLAAW) at Harvard University. She holds a PhD and an MA in Anthropology from Brandeis University and a BA in Political Science from Vilnius University.