Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Death in the Desert: Symbolic Politics on the edge of America

September 21st, 2011
5:00 pm

Greenleaf Conference Room, 100A Jones Hall, Tulane University

A lecture by Dr. Lawrence Taylor, Department of Anthropology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

A talk exploring the practice of moral geography and the political uses of death, we begin with two widely publicized incidents: the death of fourteen migrants attempting to cross the desert in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in 2001 and the shooting death of a park ranger in the nearby Organ Pipe National Monument in 2002. Taken up respectively by pro and anti- immigration groups, these two death events were used by moral entrepreneurs in the continuing struggle to define the nature of the borderland desert landscape and the people who cross it. This talk examines that struggle as an element in what I am calling moral geography: the process whereby groups and individuals use landscapes to define good and evil, sacred and profane, and national and individual identity. Viewed from this perspective, this case study sheds light on the particular shape of continuing moral struggles on the border and, more generally, on a range of cultural practices, including the political uses of death, moral entrepreneurship, and moral geography.

Lawrence Taylor is Vice President for International Affairs and the Professor of Anthropology at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. A native New Yorker, he was educated in the US and taught for years at Lafayette College. After several decades of research in Ireland, he took up the position of Department Head and Professor at Maynooth and is a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States. Professor Taylor is the author of many articles and five books: Dutchmen on the Bay (U of Penn Press 1983); Occasions of Faith: An Anthropology of Irish Catholics (U of Penn Press 1995); The Road to Mexico (U of Arizona Press 1997); Tunnel Kids (U of Arizona Press 2001), and Ambos Nogales: Intimate Portraits of the US/Mexico Border (School for American Research Press 2002). His talk is part of a larger project entitled: ‘€œLines in the Sand: Moral Geographies on the Edge of America.‘€

For more information, please contact Jimmy Huck, Assistant Director/Graduate Advisor, Stone Center for Latin American Studies

Mexico + People
Pierre Buekens
W.H. Watkins Professor of Epidemiology - Public Health and Tropical Medicine