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Artist Talk: Gabriella Sanchez

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Gabriella Sanchez presents her lecture “Beyond the Spectacle: Border Crossings as Epistemology” in the Fine Arts Building as part of the 2018 interdisciplinary masterclass Against All Suns.

The U.S.-Mexico border occupies a special place in the border imaginarium. It is not merely the line that separates the United States from Mexico: it is an ever-present character in political and national security rhetoric. Politicians referred to it as the most dangerous place on earth, while journalists on both sides of the border have documented ad nauseam the activities of organized crime, law enforcement, violence and despair in a fashion that has not only increased the fear and rejection towards the region and its people, but that provides few tools to understand its dynamics. Many have built careers on the basis of framing the border as a violent and criminal space, and have been unaware, or perhaps reluctant to admit, how we have entered what Ara Wilson refers to as a “hyper-represented space,” and in the process, re-inscribed the very characterizations that have led our communities to appear as abject and hopeless, inherently crime ridden and violent. How can research be both cognizant of these dynamics while also resist uni-dimensional characterizations of the border and its people? This presentation, drawing from empirical study on the dynamics of border crossing facilitation, seeks to articulate the border as a space of creation, resistance and life.

About the Artist
A socio-cultural anthropologist by training, Dr. Gabriella Sanchez researches illicit and criminalized forms of labor. Her ethnographic work has primarily explored the social organization of migrant smuggling relying on participatory research conducted alongside and by smuggling facilitators themselves. She is the author of “Human Smuggling and Border Crossings” (Routledge, 2015) which examines the daily lives of smuggling facilitators on the U.S. - Mexico Border, and was a finalist in the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime’s 2015 Book of the Year Award. Her current project explores the convergence of human smuggling and other illicit markets and the participation of women, children and teenagers in irregular migration facilitation. Along with Luigi Achilli (EUI-Florence) and Antje Missbach (Monash), she is a convenor to the Smuggling Workshop, an international collective of smuggling and trafficking researchers conducting empirically-informed research on clandestine and irregular migration facilitation. She has previously held research posts at the University of Texas-El Paso, Wellesley College, Hebrew University, Monash University and the University of Maryland.

Learn more about her research at

About Against All Suns 
Against All Suns in an advanced interdisciplinary seminar presented by the Kathrine G. McGovern College of Arts at the University of Houston that explores space and power, performativity, fiction, individual and collective agency, temporality, site, inhabitati

Fine Arts Building, Room 110
School of Art
KGMCA Box Office, 713-743-3388,