Associate 2019-20

Gilberto Rosas

Anthropology and Latina/o Studies

Witness: Testimony and the Ends of Refuge

During his CAS appointment, Professor Rosas will complete Witness: Testimony and the Ends of Refuge, a book that addresses the competing ends of refuge as it plays out in the complexities of immigration and asylum proceedings and the often-divisive discourses that surround them. Witness will be among the first books to capture an emergent current of migration from Mexico: those who are fleeing the drug war and resisting deportation by struggling for recognition as asylees. It takes its vantage point from Professor Rosas’s experience providing expert testimony on behalf people in asylum and related legal proceedings and related ethnographic research.

Witness captures and analyzes lived experiences of individuals in immigration proceedings and their links to larger structural forces, as they resist detention and banishment. Witness takes the practice of expert testimony and related witnessing as key sites of knowledge production in the human sciences, including the accompanying social relations of working with judges, attorneys, and respondents. It captures the political struggles undergirding contemporary asylum practices. Asylum traffics in immigrant death and persecution. Asylum seekers from Mexico and elsewhere must grapple with the deep suspicion that they are economically motivated immigrants rather than politically persecuted refugees. This entrenched imperial ideology is rapidly being supplanted by another that equates all immigration, regardless of motivation, with criminality.