Distinguished Lecture on Religion & Politics | "Keeping America Pure: the state, the church and the migrant body," by Lois Lorentzen

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The U.S./Mexico border is the world’s most militarized border between two supposedly “friendly” countries. Along the same border, religious groups offer aid to migrants who have been deported or are in transit, providing shelter, food, clothing, sturdy boots for desert crossings, phone calls home, counseling, and medical care—to most undocumented migrants, that is. However, when it comes to transgender sex workers, Church and State seem to be in agreement about the need to maintain purity and good order at the exclusion of these undocumented migrant bodies. Faced with this twinned opposition, many of those migrants (and especially those who identify as LGBTQ) turn to “border” saints for spiritual guidance and support to survive the perilous journey. Based on Professor Lorentzen’s research with deported migrants at the Nogales, Arizona/Nogales, Mexico border, and with transgender sex workers in San Francisco, this discussion analyzed the ways in which multiple borders—of nation, gender, and faith—are being contested by Church, State, and migrants themselves.

Lois Ann Lorentzen is Professor in the Theology and Religious Studies Department will be Director of the Master in Migration Studies at the University of San Francisco. Recent work includes the edited three-volume series: Hidden Lives and Human Rights in the United States: Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies of Undocumented Immigration and the co-edited Religion at the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana: Politics, Faith and Identity in New Migrant Communities.She has published articles and conducted extensive research on religion and immigration, religion in Latin America, gender and migration, and grassroots environmental movements in Latin America. 

This event is made possible with the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and is cosponsored by the College of Sexuality and Gender Studies (CSGS) at New York University.

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