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Congratulations to Jason De León, the 2016 recipient of the Margaret Mead Award for his scholarship, including the book, The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Sonoran Desert Migrant Trail.
The following quote from the nominators speaks to the intellectual quality, clarity and understandability and breadth of impact of De León’s work:
"Jason is a brilliant young anthropologist and a charismatic public intellectual. His new book is a tour de force that brings diverse anthropological methods, social science and humanities epistemologies, and bodies of scholarly theory to bear creatively and effectively on an urgent contemporary social problem and political tragedy."
Similarly, committee members’ comments included:
"This is an incredibly innovative book. It combines data and analysis from three sub-fields—archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology. There is also innovative ethnography. The theory is new—starting with INS change of policy in order to use the environment as a deterrent and going on to the notion of the hybrid collective. It covers a whole new range of insights in the border between the US and Mexico and undocumented immigrants—a very important issue at this time."
"The book includes a fictionalized account of the migrant trail, through which we are introduced to the 'everyday terror of the desert'; extended transcripts of conversations with De León’s primary informants and friends; De León’s interspersed scholarship across anthropological fields that contextualizes narratives and conversations; vivid ethnography; the stark photographs by Mike Wells and the author; and the strong discussions on ethics (ethnographic and political), structural violence, inequality and racism. The book is gripping to read, and devastating and haunting."
De León will be honored at an awards ceremony on November 16, 2016 at the 115th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.