This 16-credit field studies program will focus on Indigenous nations and Latinx communities in the Southwest region of the United States, and travel to that region. The lands straddling the U.S.-Mexico border are one of the few spaces worldwide where there is direct contact between the Third World and First World. This borderland provides an illuminating arena within which we can examine the historical layers and contemporary intersections of Indigenous nationhood, mestizaje, Latinx identities, and whiteness. We will study differing perspectives of the borderland region as the legacy of the “frontier,” or the edge of American empire, and as a “homeland,” or the center of identity for the peoples who have long inhabited it.
The program will spend a total of five weeks in Arizona and New Mexico, as conditions permit. Students and faculty will spend two weeks together on a study tour to historic sites, communities, and grassroots organizations, and three weeks working independently or in teams with a tribal or community-based project. Faculty will visit student research sites during the project period, and assist student teams in the online class forum. Student projects will use place-based methodologies and “decolonizing praxis” to examine issues of Native sovereignty, cultural identities, immigration, health, education, land and water protection, activism, economic development, gender, and poverty as they impact and are shaped by these communities.
We will examine intersecting homeland and borderland identities, identities and experiences, cultures, activism, histories, and geographies among Latinx and Indigenous peoples who “didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” In this light, we will critique the ongoing process of “Manifest Destiny” for Indigenous nations in Arizona and New Mexico and explore the backlash to immigrant rights and Native sovereignty; we will also explore strategies for countering far-right movements opposing cultural diversity. Finally, we will be looking toward future change and reimaginings in Indigenous nationhood, climate justice, environmental resilience, and immigration.
Students will develop skills in writing, research, photography, synthesizing information, ethnographic interviewing, community-based learning, and public speaking. Students from previous American Frontiers programs, or with other background in Native and/or Latinx studies, are encouraged to join this program to apply their knowledge in place-based field studies, and make connections with Southwest communities.