Visiting Scholar Presentations

Dr. Aimee VillarrealAimee Villarreal

CRS Visiting Scholar, Summer 2021

July 29, 2021

Sanctuaryscapes in the New Mexico Borderlands 

Sanctuary gets pulled in different and often opposing directions. Refugees seek it, politicians exploit it, immigrant rights advocates claim it, and religious communities revive it. Anthropologist, Aimee Villarreal introduces a time-traveling concept, Sanctuaryscapes to illuminate distinct mobilizations of sanctuary in the New Mexico borderlands from church asylum and Indigenous regions of refuge during the Spanish colonial period, to the radical 1980s faith-based sanctuary movements that inspired the establishment of sanctuary cities and states, to immigrant-led social and religious revitalization movements today. 

Dr. Aimee Villareal is Associate Professor of Comparative Mexican American Studies and directs the Center for Mexican American Studies and Research at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. She was trained as an anthropologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz where she received her Ph.D. in 2014. As a native Nuevomexicana who grew up in Santa Fe, Villarreal prefers to call herself a homeplace ethnographer. She descends from farmworkers, faith healers, educators, and community workers whose collective spirit she brings to her teaching and activist scholarship. Villarreal is an interdisciplinary scholar who writes about sanctuary movements and other radical acts of rebeldía for social justice, equity, and sustainable futures in the US-Mexico borderlands. She was a Clements Fellow for the Study of Southwestern America at Southern Methodist University (2017-2018) and part of the first Latinx anthropology seminar at the School of Advanced Research (2019). Villarreal contributed as a researcher and producer for the award-winning animation, Frontera! Revolt and Rebellion on the Río Grande (2014). Her forthcoming book with the University of North Carolina Press, Sanctuaryscapes in the New Mexico Borderlands tells time-traveling stories about how vulnerable people band together in different times and places to create communities of protection and care under conditions of oppression.