Darío Valles is an anthropologist whose research lies at the intersection of race/gender/sexuality and transnational migration in Mexico/US borderlands. As an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) teaching fellow at IRWGS and in Anthropology, he will continue research on the lived experiences of Black (Afro-Caribbean and African) and Indigenous (Central American and Southern Mexican) migrants currently displaced in Baja California, Mexico. This project interrogates the effects of the US “Remain in Mexico Policy” (2018) specifically – and Euroamerican transatlantic border militarization more broadly- on asylum-seekers left stranded in a historically-migrant sending country. He is especially attuned to the conditions under which queer and transgendered migrant youth build networks of mutual aid, reciprocity and kinship to navigate liminal geographies of exclusion and violence within a context of state abandonment in Tijuana, Mexico.
At Columbia he will be developing digital media storytelling and film workshops for queer and transgender asylum seekers in partnership with a Mexico-based mobile schooling project that provides arts-based educational interventions within migrant shelters and informal settlements throughout Tijuana. The digital media, artwork, and citizen journalism content the migrant youth create will be included in a feature length documentary Valles is co-producing that will offer audiences a personal and humanistic view on asylum crisis at the US/Mexico border. His analytical lens draws from a mix of cultural, linguistic and visual anthropological methods that can draw together and interdisciplinary theoretical debates within queer, feminist and migration studies and speak to the ways migrant youth shape new horizons of transnational solidarity, abolition and citizenship.
Valles’ research has been published in the Journal of Latin American Geography, Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), and featured in numerous local and global media, including as a regular correspondent for the feminist online radio program Tejiendo Centróamerica. He is currently completing a book project, Comadre Citizenship, analyzing the role of Mexican and Central American women who have transformed their Los Angeles homes into childcare businesses for working class parents in the shadow of public education divestment, privatization and immigration enforcement. Prior to Columbia, he taught at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, and at UCLA’s César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies & Dept. of Urban Planning.