In this course, I want to address the issue of climate change. This is largely an abstract political discussion, represented by a current U.S administration in denial, and a world governing body talking about graphs and data showing degrees of temperature change. How to bring the cerebral to the emotional? How to visualize the invisible? In this class I propose to do this by studying an aspect of climate change, which is migration, and in particular the migration around the Mexican/U.S. border.
According to U.S. military planners, climate change now poses the #1 national security threat to the United States, even before terrorism. And well before migration. Climate change, migration, and security are global issues that intermingle. The United Nations estimates there will be 50 million “environmental refugees” by 2020. A 2010 report by Princeton University researchers predicted that future crop failure in Mexico could lead to millions spilling over the U.S.-Mexico border.
NAFTA, the trade agreement between Canada, US and Mexico, was signed in 1992. Two years later, a severe drought started in Mexico. The great majority of the rural population grow maize—rain-fed agriculture—primarily for their own consumption. Besides crop yields declining drastically and 400 square miles of arable land lost to desertification every year, they also found their market inundated with cheap, government-subsidized corn from the United States. People faced no other choice but to leave their ancestral lands.
“Nothing will test human institutions like climate change in this century, people on the move from rising waters, spreading deserts, and endless storms could profoundly destabilize our civilizations unless we seize the chance to re-imagine our relationships to each other. This is no drill, but it is a test, and it will be graded pass-fail” writes Bill McKibben, author Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
How to mitigate migration rather than militarize it, as Trump proposes with his border wall? It is not up to us to supply the answer, but to ask more questions, and to go out into the field to gather more information that will lead to insights that will hopefully lead to people opening their hearts and minds to an issue that concerns us all. It starts with you.
“The struggles for social justice and ecological sustainability must be one struggle. Existing disparities in wealth and power, combined with the dramatic changes we are causing in this planet’s ecosystems, mean either we come together around our common humanity or forfeit the right to call ourselves fully human,” writes Robert Jensen of the University of Texas at Austin.
Each of you is given subjects to research in three different categories:
[a] The effect of climate change, particularly on Mexican and Meso-American Migration
[b] Specific organizations/interest groups working for/ with or against migration.
[c] Responses from artists, writers, photographers, filmers etc.
The links provided are by no means complete, they are but a starting point, and I encourage you to explore further.
In a 6 minute presentation, using word and images, explain to your fellow students what you learned about climate change, and its effects on migration on the Mexican/US border, using the given websites as your starting point. Study the response from NGO’s and from the creative industry. Use your research to spark the imagination of yourself and your colleagues. In addition, organize your expanded research (images, urls, pull-quotes etc.) on the class website, that other students can use it for further reference. Expect to spend 5 hours on this task of immersing yourself in this material. Go beyond the call of duty, click further than the links provided.
Download report and presentation
The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR)
[c] Border Songs
Glen Weyant – Border Wall Music
Luis Alberto Urrea – The Devil’s Highway
Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is most recognized as a border writer, though he says, “I am more interested in bridges, not borders.”
Download PDF- brief
Young Latina Artists
Search for articles with both keywords Mexico and Migration
Jason De León – The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail
Ricardo Dominguez – Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT) / border disturbance art
[c] Gloria Anzaldúa
“The border remains an open wound.”
Photography book by Mark Klett – El Camino del Diablo, (The Devil’s Highway)
Humane Borders/Fronteras Compasivas
[c] Ana Teresa Fernandez
Colibri Center for Human Rights
Pick 3-5 artists/projects to elaborate on
Missing Migrants Projects
Pick 3-5 artists/works to elaborate on
Tohono O’ Odham
https://www.doloresthemovie.com (check the press kit)
“One day there will be no borders, no boundaries, no flags and no countries and the only passport will be the heart” – Carlos Santana
Shuwen Gia Liu
Read the “Concluding remarks on the climate change-migration nexus,” from page 415 to 426.
Harry Jangkwon Seo
Read the executive summary, browse the rest
James Whitlow Delano
The Deadly Passage of the All-American Canal https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-deadly-passage-of-the-all-american-canal/
Most deadly passage. A field of bricks for every death; opportunity to document with drone?
UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
A Day Without A Mexican (2004)
Those Who Remain (2008)