Panel & Response: Border Communities & Resistance: A Contemporary & Historical overview of El Paso & Ciudad Juarez | Sandra Paola Ramirez Lopez with Women Studies

In the first component of this panel we will hear from local and long-time community activists, scholars and organizers. Moderated by Dr. Guillermina G. Núñez-Mchiri— Community scholar and Director of the Women and Gender Studies program at UTEP, we will hear from Lorena Andrade— Director of La Mujer Obrera, Dr. Yolanda Chavez-Leyva— Director of the Institute of Oral History at UTEP and a Community activist-scholar advocating for historical preservation, Fernando García— Founding Director of the Border Network of Human Rights, and Dr. David Romo— Community activist-scholar and author of Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez, 1893-1923. The discussion will give participants some context on our border’s social, economic, political and class struggles to invite a mindful engagement of our corporality as we move through and in this frontera. After an hour presentation, participants will be guided by the binational coalition Performing Communities de Esperanza in a performative response to the panel’s remarks.

Dr. Guillermina G. Núñez-Mchiri is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Women and Gender Studies at UTEP. She is a mother to Adam, who is now in 6th grade. Dr. Núñez teaches courses on Ethnography and Interdisciplinary Feminist Theory and Methods, Cultural, Applied, and Urban Anthropology, Anthropology of Food, Culture, and Society; and Death, Dying, and Bereavement. Her research focuses on colonias on the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration and human rights, and the applications of Ethnography and Service Learning in higher education. She recently co-edited a book with Azuri Gonzalez on Community Engagement as a High Impact Practice in Higher Education (2018). Dr. Núñez received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California Riverside in 2006, her MA in Latin American Studies in 1998, and her BA in International Business in 1994 from San Diego State University with a specialization in Spanish and Portuguese.

Lorena Andrade is the director of La Mujer Obrera a local independent organization located in El Paso, Texas dedicated to creating communities defined by women. In 1998, Andrade began working for LMO. Andrade helped organize the women displaced from the garment industry as a result of the implementation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As the organization grew Andrade collaborated with committees within the organization to identify, develop, and implement programs grounded in the history of women workers and Mexican indigenous heritage. She also
participated in developing the social enterprise side of La Mujer Obrera, which includes: Rayito de Sol daycare center; Café Mayapan, a restaurant; and LumMetik Trading Co, which focuses on fair trade. In 2011, Andrade became director of LMO, the organization’s programing includes Familias Unidas, community organizing, Museo Maychen, a community garden, and annual cultural events.

Yolanda Chávez Leyva is the Director of the Institute of Oral History at the University of Texas at El Paso and an Associate Professor in History. She was born and raised on the Ciudad Juárez-El Paso border and has dedicated her life to listening to and documenting the histories of fronterizos, border people. She specializes in border history, public history, and Chicana history. She is co-founder of Museo Urbano, a museum of the streets that highlights fronterizo history by taking it where people are– from museums to the actual streets of El Paso. She is working on a manuscript titled Interpreting Latinx History in Museums and Historic Sites. She is an original member of Paso del Sur, a grassroots organization that works with El Paso Southside barrios against displacement and demolition

Fernando Garcia is the Founding Director of the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR). The BNHR supports immigrant border communities in the promotion of their human rights and the demand of humane immigration reform that is consistent with human rights. As Director, Fernando is responsible for facilitating the creation of Human Rights Community-Based Committees and the training of Human Rights Promoters in several states. In 2001, he became the National Coordinator of the National Movement for Legalization and Human Rights. Under Fernando’s coordination, the Border Network for Human Rights has also worked closely with local elected officials and community organizations to change how law enforcement agencies interact with border residents. In 2009, under Fernando’s initiative, BNHR launched the creation of the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA), a Texas wide, multi-sector alliance that currently works on immigrant integration and engagement and pushes back the anti-immigrant agenda in the State. At the present he is a member of the Independent Task Force of Immigration and America’s Future convened by the Migration Policy Institute.

Dr. David Dorado Romo is a historian who specializes in borderlands and transnational studies. He is author of the award-winning Ringside Seat to a Revolution: The Underground History of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, 1893-1923. He has been the recipient of Ford Foundation Fellowship, the Fulbright Fellowship, and the Clements Center for Southwestern Studies Fellowship. Romo is co-director of the Museo Urbano, a public history project based in El Paso that has received national recognition. His historical essays and editorials have appeared in the Texas Monthly, Mexico City’s Nexos, Texas Observer and Los Angeles Times. He is currently writing a book about propaganda and intelligence on the U.S.-Mexico border during World War II. For this project he has conducted research in archives in Germany, Mexico and the United States.

Sandra Paola López Ramírez (BFA, EdM) is a latinoamericana dancemaker, improviser and performance activist. Her community-based interdisciplinary work plays with gender, identity, and sociality, and it has taken her through the US, Colombia, Brazil, Cyprus, France, Canada and Mexico. Since moving to the United States from her native Colombia in 2004, she has developed her practice to integrate her creative process and her community organizing efforts. Driven by her commitment to social transformation, Sandra Paola co-founded and directs the Institute for Improvisation and Social Action (ImprovISA) – an organization empowering diverse populations to develop through performance and improvisation in the U.S.-Mexico border. She is currently dance faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso and is completing her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts with a Performance Creation concentration at Goddard College.

Sandra Paola López Ramírez will perform in response to the panel discussion.

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