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Hostile Terrain 94 exhibit comes to Burlington

Oct 4 2021, 10:32 PM

Hostile Terrain 94 is a participatory exhibition created by the Undocumented Migration Project, a non-profit organization focused on the social process of immigration and raising awareness through research, education, and outreach. This exhibit will be open to the public in the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vermont, and we are urging as many members of our community as possible to visit our exhibit to learn about and take action against this injustice.

The exhibit is composed of approximately 3,400 handwritten toe-tags that represent
migrating people who have died trying to cross the US-Mexico border through the Sonoran Desert from the mid-1990s to 2020. The participatory construction of Hostile Terrain 94 exhibitions is made possible by teams of volunteers from each hosting location, who participate in tag-filling workshops. These tags are geolocated on a large wall map of the Arizona-Mexico border, showing the exact locations where human remains were found. The physical act of writing out the names and information of the deceased migrants invites participants to reflect, witness, and stand in solidarity with those who have lost their lives in the pursuit of a better one. Hostile Terrain 94 exhibitions are being held at over 120 institutions across six continents with the intent to educate communities about the humanitarian crisis at America’s southern border and to prompt a worldwide conversation about migration and human rights.

Hostile Terrain 94 is meant to confront participants with the brutality of the Prevention Through Deterrence (PTD) policy implemented in the United States during the 1990s. By emphasizing the devastating effects this policy has on migrants as they pursue a better life for themselves and their families, Hostile Terrain 94 exposes a violent reality; that the United States government has weaponized the ruthless environment of the Sonoran Desert against people who migrate across the Southern U.S. border. By diverting people towards riskier border crossing areas, where terrain is dangerous and the environment even harsher, Prevention Through Deterrence has become one of the harshest national border policies adopted by the United States to date.

Hostile Terrain 94 is a jarring exhibition that deals with many sensitive and emotional concepts. We encourage participants to consider the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border and its larger effects, and to stand in solidarity with all people who migrate, past or present, dead or alive, in an attempt to initiate changes in border security and immigration policies.

The University of Vermont Department of Anthropology and the Fletcher Free Library are collaborating to bring this exhibit to the Burlington area. The exhibit will be open from October 15th until November 5, 2021 in the main reading room at the Fletcher Free Library located at 235 College Street in Burlington, VT. There is a public opening reception for the exhibit on Friday, October 15th at 5:30pm. More information about the exhibit is available at: or by emailing Dr. Teresa Mares at [email protected]


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