Bringing the Border to Columbus: A Virtual Symposium will take place at The Ohio State University on April 12-16, 2021, supported by a Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme grant. At the symposium, academics, activists, artists, and immigrants from the OSU and greater Columbus community will interrogate the politics of south-to-north migrations in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico and the resulting death and disappearances in these borderlands. We aim to bring to light how the policies enacted in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands have direct impacts on the lives of our immigrant neighbors, all U.S. Americans, and on the lives of immigrants in the U.S. who continue to live in the borderlands under the protection of sanctuary. The symposium will bring art and scholarship about and from the border to the OSU and greater Columbus community, a community that may feel separated from border politics and experiences due to geographic distance.
A core element of ‘bringing the border to Columbus’ will be the opportunity to participate in Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94), a participatory art project sponsored and organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art-education-media collective directed by anthropologist Jason De León. The exhibition is composed of handwritten toe tags that represent real migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. These tags will be geolocated on a wall map of the desert to show the exact locations where remains were found. Participants will have the chance to fill out one of ~ 3,200 toe tags with details of a migrant’s remains researched by UMP. While current circumstances prevent us from gathering to assemble the installation in-person, we will proceed with a virtual symposium to bring awareness to this impactful issue happening on the border. Our intention is for the installation to be presented at The Ohio State University sometime in 2022, to continue to engage students as well as local community organizers and activists in discussions about the role of art and artists in creating awareness of border violence.