Remembering the dead in the borderlands

“The blood of my kinfolk cries out from the ground along the U.S.-Mexico border, where they crossed through the desert only to die, their remains calling out for remembrance. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Isaac S. Villegas Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship Contact Me

About this pastoral study project

After a perilous trek across border after border through Central America countries, people dodge the security and surveillance at the Mexican border, finally making their way into the United States, without federal permission, only for their bodies to wither from dehydration in the desert, their lives coming to an end. Migrants die in the U.S. borderlands. On this side of the border, there are communities who have taken up the responsibility to remember the dead—to mark their graves, to honor their lives with vigils, to declare them as “Presente.” For my project I will join these communities in their practices of remembrance. With local organizers as my guides, I will visit cemeteries and makeshift gravesites on the U.S. side of the border to pay my respects to those who have died and to witness local organizations as they sustain a culture of reverence for the lives of the dead. I will pay particular attention to the theologies and spiritualities at work in these forms of remembrance. Through reading and writing, I will reflect on how these rituals in the borderlands develop from or intersect with Christian forms of attending to the dead.