Panel Discussion – Margo Tamez, Cynthia Bejarano, Camilo Perez-Bustillo

Beyond Borders, Beyond the American Dream


Margo Tamez’s Presentation

The Wall is not a ‘beautiful wall’: poetics of Indigenous belonging, rights, and resurgence

Margo Tamez is a scholar, indigenous rights defender and poet of the Hada’didla Nde’ (“Lightning Storm People”), Konitsaii Nde’ (“Big Water People”) and an enrolled citizen of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas. She’s written two books of poetry, Naked Want (2003) and Raven Eye (2007), and has authored many critical works on the U.S.-Mexico border as it relates to indigenous feminist-resistance, and restoration of Lipan Apache’s women’s rights. She is currently an associate professor of the Indigenous Studies Program at the University of British Columbia.


Cynthia Bejarano’s Presentation

This presentation will focus on borderlands’ communities and their everyday cultural, political, social, and economic resistance to settler colonial practices and formations. While recent trends in scholarship have adopted a settler colonial critique of racism and exploitation in the U.S., those approaches sometimes overly focus on the state and the Anglo dominant elite. Such critiques of settler colonial structures inadvertently overshadow the actions and voices of oppressed groups, such as Indigenous people, Chicanx/Mexicanx communities, and migrant populations, particularly in the borderlands. Building from my twenty-five years of activism and scholarship in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez-Las Cruces Paso del Norte region, I seek to foreground the techniques of survival, cultural resilience, and resistance to racism, militarization, and violence. Through these local examples, I argue that Indigenous, Chicanx, and migrant populations are fighting for land, dignity, and human rights in an era of heightened nationalism, xenophobia, and nativism centered at the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Bejarano’s Short Bio

Cynthia Bejarano is a Regents Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies at New Mexico State University, and is the Stan Fulton College of Arts and Sciences Endowed Chair. Her publications and research interests include: migration and transnationalism, border and gender-based violence at the U.S.-Mexico border, and immigrant youth and postsecondary education. She is the author of the book “Qué Onda?” Urban Youth Cultures and Border Identity, with the University of Arizona Press, and the co-editor with Rosa-Linda Fregoso of Terrorizing Women: Feminicide in the Americas published with Duke University Press and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Her recent works include, “Fear, Vulnerability and Death’ for Children and Youth at the U.S.-Mexico Border” in Geographies of Children and Young People: Conflict, Violence, and Peace, and also, “Resistance, Resilience and Remembering: Juárenses Surviving Feminicide and the ‘Great’ Violence in Ciudad Juárez” in Torn from Our Midst: Voices of Grief, Healing and Action from the Missing Indigenous Women’s Conference in Regina, Canada.

Bejarano served as a tribunal judge for the Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico that focused on gender-based violence and disappearances in Northern Mexico, and was the co-founder of Amigos de las Mujeres de Juarez, an organization working to end violence against women in Chihuahua, Mexico. She is also the Principal Investigator of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Assistance Migrant Program, that has served over 450 first-generation Latino farmworker students since 2002.


Camilo Perez-Bustillo’s Presentation

Human Rights at the Border: Militarization, Criminalization, and Liberation
This talk will focus on forced migration, mass human rights crimes, and processes of resistance in the U.S, Mexico, and Latin America, and on how tribunals of conscience can contribute to such struggles.

Camilo Perez-Bustillo is Director of Advocacy, Research, and Leadership Development at Hope Border Institute, coordinator of the secretariat of the International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement based in Mexico City, and co-author with Karla Hernandez Mares of Human Rights, Hegemony and Utopia in Latin America: Poverty, Forced Migration and Resistance in Mexico and Colombia (Brill 2016/Haymarket Books 2017)