Conference to Address Research Challenges Along U.S.-Mexico Border

Conducting research on or near the border between Mexico and the United States comes with more than one or two special considerations.

Passports must be in order, networks must be established and unique linguistic, cultural and ethical considerations must be addressed. 

Border researchers across the country are meeting at the University of Arizona on April 22 and 23 for the Bi-National Between the Lines: Border Research, Ethics and Methods Conference to exchange ideas on methodological and ethical issues inherent in border research.

The conference, to be held at the Viscount Suite Hotel in Tucson, is free and open to the public. It will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with presentations in both English and Spanish.

The UA's Binational Migration Institute, headed by Raquel Rubio Goldsmith, is one of the sponsors of the event. The institute exemplifies the type of work border researchers conduct. Rubio Goldsmith said within the U.S. the growing fear in migrant communities in and near border areas has made research efforts, such as conducting surveys, extremely difficult and is one of the topics to be discussed at the conference.

Her team of researchers work to assess the impact of U.S. enforcement practices on immigrants and their family members. They do thei work, she said, in the most deadly, militarized and active migratory crossings in the U.S.

"Collecting data for research has become more difficult but it is also a good learning experience for students who must analyze the situation and develop different ways to get the information they are looking for," said Rubio Goldsmith, a professor at the UA's department of Mexican American and Raza Studies.

At the conference, researchers and students from a variety of disciplines will focus on the risks of working in Mexico and the threat of violence as the nation battles with drug cartels.

Conference co-sponsors include representatives from El Colegio de Sonora (The Sonora College) who along with other Mexican scholars will discuss their research challenges in working along the U.S. border.

Conference keynote speakers include Kathleen Staudt from the political science department at the University of Texas, El Paso. Staudt teaches courses on public policy, borders, democracy, leadership and civic engagement and women and politics. .

Manuel Chavez teaches at Michigan State University, and will present on his book, "Critical Issues in the U.S.-Mexico Relations: Stumbling Blocks and Constructive Paths." His research deals with international relations, security, democracy and the press.

UA professors and graduate students will offer input on working along the border as part of the conference agenda.

The conference also is sponsored by the the Office of Western Hemispheric Programs, the Center for Latin American Studies and el Centro de Estudios de America del Norte at El Colegio de Sonora.
By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University Communications April 15, 2010