Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About usFaculty of Arts

Seminar: On The Other Side of the Wall Resilience and Representation at the U.S.-Mexican Border

When:Fr 23-02-2018 09:30 - 16:30
Where:room 1313.0309, Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 26, Groningen

International Seminar organized by Mexican Studies Centre and the Research Center for the Americas, University of Groningen

Recently American journalist Amy Goodman rightfully pointed to the absence of migrant voices in the polarized debates in Washington and the US media about Trump´s ideas about immigration and his plan to build wall along the US-Mexican border. Those who have taken sanctuary in churches for fear of deportation in the US are hardly ever seen or heard. Perhaps this is even more so for the people and communities living on the Mexican side of the border, but whose lives are profoundly shaped by US narratives, policies and practices.

The southern part of the U.S.-Mexican border region has gone through a difficult period when it comes to violence and insecurity. During the last year, violence and insecurity have been on the rise again in several cities along the border. But cities and communities along the border also have a long history of social and cultural resources to confront manifold challenges. They are known for their remarkable resilience. This conference examines how different social groups in the region engage social transformation affecting the region, and the social, political and cultural resources they draw upon. Since this is an intensely transnationalised space, the conference examines the social, economic, cultural and political networks that circulate throughout the border region as a quintessential transnational space.

For more information contact prof.dr. Wil G. Pansters at


9:30 Welcome and Introduction

Daan Raemaekers, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Arts, RUG
Wil Pansters, director Mexican Studies Centre, RUG

10:00-12.30 Panel I: Migration, Violence, and Societal Resilience

Chair: Bob de Jonge, RUG

The social, political, and economic insecurity of the late 20th and early 21st century borderlands created waves of increased and now substantially decreased (or net-zero) migration within and between Mexico and the United States. Border communities have negotiated these durable shifts through established, fleeting, and even conflicting alliances and strategies, creating new methods of survival and resistance in the process.“The Strange Case of Migration Securitization and the Rise of Violence in Mexico”

Francisco Alonso, EUI, Florence, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

“Grief, memory politics and social activism along the border”

Paola Ovalle, Instituto de Investigaciones Culturales- Museo, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Mexicali, Mexico.

Discussant: Wil G. Pansters, Mexican Studies Centre, University of Groningen and Utrecht University, and general discussion.
12.30-14.00 Lunch break
14.00-16.30 Panel II: The social and literary construction of violence

Chair: Konstantin Mierau, RUG

People develop and utilize narratives, symbols and discourses to give meaning to the world around them, and to their place in the world. Cultural repertoires and frameworks of meaning enable people to make sense of and navigate the world. When changes have disordering effects on the reproduction of society and patterns of behavior, the production of new cultural and meaningful repertoires to give meaning to the changing world becomes essential. This panel examines representational practices and strategies that reflect on and interpret conditions of violence, insecurity, and crisis.

“From sacred to banal death in contemporary Mexico”
Jorge Balderas Domínguez, Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Administrativas, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

“From ‘narconovela’ to ‘narcocrónica’: literary and journalistic representations of drug violence and trafficking in the borderlands”

Brigitte Adriaensen, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands:

Discussants: Bob de Jonge and Wil Pansters, RUG, and general discussion
16.30 closing