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Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies pres.

LACS Central American Contexts Series. Crises of Care: Violence, Impunity, and Hospitality along the Central American Migrant Trail

John Doering-White, Assistant Professor of Social Work and Anthropology, University of South Carolina

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In this talk, John Doering-White examines how grassroots migrant shelters that aid Central Americans transiting through Mexico rely on religious traditions of hospitality to align their work with state humanitarian frameworks while simultaneously distancing themselves from economies of corruption that allow for such widespread impunity. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork along the Central American migrant trail between 2014 and 2017, Doering-White traces how religion allowed shelter workers to seek to maintain a single moral face while dialoguing with duplicitous state functionaries whom shelter workers presumed to be complicit in sustaining widespread impunity. Integrating scholarship that examines hospitality as both an ethical imperative and a calculated political performance, he shows that duplicity is often central to pursuing humanitarian recognition via idealized human rights frameworks. He also considers how migrant shelters navigate the risks and rewards associated with broader recognition in the context of rising anti-immigrant sentiment both in the United States and across Mexico.

John Doering-White, Assistant Professor of Social Work and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina, is an ethnographer of migration and community organizing. Since 2014, Doering-White has conducted ethnographic fieldwork alongside humanitarian migrant shelters that aid Central Americans migrating undocumented through Mexico, often by hopping freight trains. Doering-White is a graduate of the Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Anthropology at the University of Michigan.
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