Mapping Clandestine Journeys from Central America to the United States

Presentation by Noelle Brigden

To examine how Central American migrants navigate dangerous journeys across a shifting and unpredictable social, material and political terrain, I will present 22 maps drawn by Salvadoran men and women. To draw these images, the mapmakers either imagined the journey across Mexico and into the United States before undertaking it, or they remembered the route they traveled after their return. An analysis of these images and their accompanying narratives contributes to our understanding of how information works (or does not work) in a human security crisis that trespasses across borders.  Furthermore, overtime the collective visual experience of the route shared by migrants becomes a strategic resource for activists who challenge state propaganda with such imagery.  Thus, this presentation offers a critical cartography of Central American migration journeys that takes us beyond borders to understand the experience of everyday people on the move.

       Dr. Noelle K. Brigden is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science at Marquette University, Milwaukee, USA. She holds a PhD in Government (International Relations and Comparative Politics) from Cornell University. With her Dissertation "Uncertain Odysseys: Migrant Journeys and Transnational Routes" she won the Esman Prize for Best Dissertation in the Department of Government.
Among her numerous publications some deal with today´s topic, most importantly her book of 2018, The Migrant Passage: Clandestine Journeys from Central America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press and most recently her article ‘Underground Railroads and Coyote Conductors: Brokering Clandestine Passages, Then and Now’, International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 2019.
Noelle Brigden received a scholarship of ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius 2011-13 within the doctoral programme "Settling Into Motion" that dealt with migration studies.