Associate Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department Christina Leza has published an article, “For Native Americans, US-Mexico Border is an ‘Imaginary Line’,” on The Conversation.
In the article, Leza, a linguistic anthropologist and Yoeme-Chicana activist scholar, writes that Native Americans she has interviewed describe the U.S.-Mexico border as “the imaginary line” – an invisible boundary created by colonial powers that claim sovereign indigenous territories as their own. A border wall, such as the one currently proposed by President Donald Trump, would further separate Native peoples from friends, relatives, and tribal resources that span the U.S.-Mexico border, she writes.
Her article examines how the Tohono O’odham are among the U.S. federal tribes fighting the government’s efforts to beef up existing security with a border wall; how land is central to Native communities’ historic, spiritual, and cultural identity; and the use of arbitrary identity tests by border patrol agents who have expansive discretionary power to refuse or delay the entry of indigenous Mexicans.
Leza, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, joined CC’s Department of Anthropology in 2011. Her research addresses indigenous peoples, racial and ethnic discourses, grassroots activism, indigenous rights, cognitive anthropology, and the U.S.-Mexico border. A native Arizonan with strong ties to both the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez and the Tucson-Nogales border regions, her publications include work on U.S.-Mexico border hip hop as identity and social movement discourse and indigenous activist discourses.
The Conversation is an independent platform for analysis and commentary written by scholars. Articles have a monthly audience of 6-7 million readers and appear in The Washington Post, Scientific American, TIME, Newsweek, CNN, and others.