The murders of more than 400 women and young girls in Ciudad Juárez, México over the past 14 years will be the focus of a Texas A&M University conference April 10.
“¡Justicia en Juárez! Gender Violence, Maquiladoras and Border Issues” will be held at Texas A&M’s Sterling C. Evans Memorial Library from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The conference of scholars and others concerned or affected by the Juarez murders is co-sponsored by 14 Texas A&M units.
It is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested by university officials.
The Juarez murders began in 1993 and young women and girls from all walks of life continue to disappear with little or no hope of bringing the perpetrators to justice, conference planners note.
The symposium aims to apply multi-discipline, cutting-edge research to better understand the underlying reasons for the violence in the Mexican border town across from El Paso.
Organizers say another goal of the conference is to assemble scholars from diverse disciplines to foster development of a long-term research agenda on gender violence on the U.S.-México Border and also to build new and strengthen existing networks of researchers in both countries.
"The intent of hosting this symposium is to call attention to the research being conducted that investigates the violence and murder in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico,” explained Miguel Juarez, assistant professor and curator of Hispanic Studies Collections at Texas A&M and a member of the committee planning the conference.
“The committee is comprised of a working group of concerned faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and community persons who feel this topic is important and merits exploration,” he added. “I am originally from El Paso and the Juarez region and this issue does not only affect those living along the border. Therefore, those of us in higher education have a responsibility to bring awareness to the issue."
Speakers include sociologist Julia Monarrez Fragoso, Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Juárez, México, who will present her research on the social and gendered roots of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez. Also cultural theorist María Socorro Tabuenca Córdoba, dean for the North West Region, Colegio de la Frontera Norte, who will examine women’s shifting border identities on both sides of the U.S.-México border in light of persistent and heightened violence.
Other speakers include Elvia Arriola, professor of law at Northern Illinois University College of Law, Diana Washington Valdez, investigative reporter for the El Paso Times, and Marisela Ortíz, educator, co-founder, and director of Nuestras Hijas Regreso a Casa (May Our Daughters Return Home) – a support group for families of victims.
The conference will conclude with a reception and dance performance New Moon Over Juarez by The Latin Dance Project from Los Angeles. This performance is a dance drama about a young maquiladora (factory) worker who meets her fate in Ciudad Juárez, and also about two sisters and the bond that brings them together one last time.
The lead sponsor for the conference is the Center for Housing and Urban Development (CHUD) in Texas A&M’s College of Architecture. Co-sponsors are the university’s Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, Race and Ethnic Studies Institute, Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Women’s and Gender Equity Resource Center, Department of Sociology, Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy, Department of Hispanic Studies, Women’s Studies Program, Department of English, Mexican American and Latino Research Center, International Programs, Office of the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets and the Office of the Vice President for Administration.
Anyone wishing to attend the conference is asked to register in advance to assure sufficient seating. To register, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Photo by Juárez native Manuela A. Gomez from her fall 2005 College of Architecture photo exhibit, "Juárez Without the Myth"