APRIL 5, 2022 — Jill Fleuriet, anthropology professor and associate dean of the UTSA Honors College, will be part of a distinguished panel of guests who will discuss conflicting representations of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, in the Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02) on the UTSA Main Campus.
The event, which is sponsored by the college, is free and open to the public.
Fleuriet, herself a native of the border, has spent many years studying the Rio Grande Valley to deconstruct the negative associations most Americans have of the U.S.-Mexico border. In her new book, Rhetoric and Reality on the U.S.-Mexico Border: Place Politics, Home, Fleuriet offers an alternative way of thinking about a region that is so instructive for our nation.
Joining Fleuriet on the panel will be New York Times Reporter Edgar Sandoval; Juliet V. García, former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville and professor of communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; and Jerry Gonzalez, associate professor in the UTSA Department of History and director of the UTSA Mexico Center. They will discuss the issues addressed in the book.
John Phillip Santos, writer, journalist, documentarian and distinguished scholar in Mestizo Cultural Studies at the college, will moderate the event.
Politicians and media commonly portray the U.S.-Mexico border as a place of menace and intractable challenge, rather than as a historic region with a powerful legacy of resilience and an abundance of promise. In her book, Fleuriet set out to listen to a wide array of borderlands voices—and what emerged was another vision for the region’s future and a model for our nation.
“The Valley is often portrayed in the news as corrupt, poor and violent, and that narrative is amplified by people outside the region,” said Fleuriet. “The goal of my research is to share a more balanced narrative of the borderlands as a place of resilience, potential and one that has essential lessons that could help the rest of the U.S. address common challenges of education, health and the economy.”
In addition to examining the representations of the Rio Grande Valley, participants will explore new ways of thinking about change and opportunity for this critical part of our nation.
The event is one of several offered throughout the year by the Honors College, which focuses on student development through one of the most experiential honors curricula in the nation. Its non-traditional, project-based approach provides students with unique opportunities outside of their major, empowering them to become leaders, develop as professionals and reach intellectual achievement beyond course work.
As the only residential college at UTSA, the Honors College community is made up of roughly 1,700 high-achieving, academically driven students from across all majors and disciplines, including UTSA Top Scholars, Terry Scholars and many of the university's nationally award-winning students.
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