The 2012–2013 University of Washington Mellon Sawyer Seminar on the Borderlands builds upon the work of a multi-year, multi-disciplinary collective. The Sawyer Seminar undertakes an interdisciplinary exploration of Borderlands, understood as the contact zones, imagined geographies, and discourses that produce both order and violence.
Taking as our point of departure Gloria Anzaldua’s influential characterization of borderlands (small “b”) as historically and spatially specific sites and Borderlands (capital “B”) as ideological projects, the UW Borderlands project contributes to a comparative and interdisciplinary understanding of the political and cultural power of boundaries and boundary-crossings. With Anzaldua, we are concerned with the complexities of multiple Borderlands that characterize the politics of belonging in national states, diasporic and Indigenous communities, and even the domains of nature and society.
This project seeks to shed light on how borders and both seen and not seen, with special attention to the themes of border-making practices, gendered violence, and Indigenous perspectives on borders. More concretely, it also hopes to remap the Borderlands of scholarly production at the University of Washington by generating sustained interdisciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration across the humanities and social sciences, and between undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty.