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The Undocumented Migration Project: Archaeology of the Contemporary, United States

Location: Sonora Desert , Arizona, United States

June 16, 2013 to July 20, 2013

Session dates: 
Single session

Application Deadline: 
Monday, July 1, 2013

Deadline Type: 
Exact date

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Institute for Field Research, University of Michigan, Connecticut College

Project Director:

Dr. Jason De León, University of Michigan, Dr. Cameron Gokee, University of Michigan

Project Description

Since the mid-1990’s, hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants from Mexico and beyond have been entering the United States on foot through Arizona.  Migrants will often walk for several days across the harsh Sonora Desert to reach places such as Tucson. People typically carry backpacks loaded with food, clothing, and other provisions and along the way they rest (and often discard these goods) at temporary campsites known as “migrant stations”. Hundreds of migrant stations have been identified in southern Arizona. Using traditional archaeological analytical methods and ethnography, this project examines migrant material culture to understand many aspects of this clandestine cultural phenomenon.

Period(s) of Occupation: Contemporary

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Entire duration of field school

Minimum age: 
18 years old

Experience required: 
No prior experience required

Room and Board Arrangements

Students will camp in tents for five weeks at a permanent camp site near the town of Arivaca. Porta-johns and outdoor showers will be provided for students. Meals will be eaten at camp, the laboratory field house, and occasionally at a restaurant in Arivaca.
All meals will be communal events and will provide plenty of nutritious but basic food in the tradition of local cuisine. Specialized diets (vegan, kosher, etc.) are difficult to maintain in this location. Vegetarian options are always available with each meal.    
Please let us know when you apply for this program if you have special dietary needs, as well as any medical or physical conditions. We will advise you accordingly. The project is used to catering for vegetarians, those with gluten intolerance etc.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Connecticut College
Number of credits offered 8 semester credit units


Contact Information
Ran Boytner
1855 Industrial Street Unit 106
Los Angeles
United States
Recommended Bibliography: 

De León, Jason. 2012a "'Better to be Hot Than Caught': Excavating the Conflicting Roles of Migrant Material Culture." American Anthropologist 111:3.

De León, Jason. 2012b "The Alien Transfer and Exit Program: Migrant Perspectives from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico." International Migration.