Alshaibi, Serafim named Mellon-Fronteridades Faculty Fellows

By: Michael Chesnick. February 27, 2024.

Regents Professor Sama Alshaibi and Assistant Professor Marcos Serafim, with the School of Art’s Photo, Video and Imaging program, have been named Mellon-Fronteridades Faculty Fellows.

The program, run by the University of Arizona’s Confluencenter, funds UArizona faculty members and graduate students working on interdisciplinary research projects that explore, analyze and elevate the lived experiences, cultural resources and border dynamics of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Fellows’ projects focus on building new public understanding and interpretation of the U.S.-Mexico border dynamics, tensions, innovations, dreams, and realities, positively impacting border communities.

Six faculty members and six graduate students — including MFA candidate Andrés Caballero — are among the 2024 Mellon-Fronteridades Fellows. Here’s a closer look at the projects by Alshaibi and Serafim, from the confluencenter.arizona.edu website:

SAMA ALSHAIBI
Regents Professor
Director of the Racial Justice Studio at Arizona Arts

Regents Professor Sama Alshaibi
  • Project Title: “Borderland Migrations & Metaphors” (BMM)
  • Project background: The project will use creative inquiry pláticas, in combination with podcasting, to produce trans-disciplinary stories of the U.S.-Mexico border. Plática is an anti-colonial feminista methodology that prioritizes social relationships based on trust, mutual vulnerability, and reciprocity. This approach contrasts power relations that characterize the traditional dichotomy of researcher-subject.
  • Project aim: BMM will create a space for co-creating knowledge through conversational interviews with BorderLab fellows from 2021-2023. Fellows are invited to reflect on their projects; how they are currently thinking about borderlands as an identity, location, and idea; and how they have been changed by borderlands research. Interviewers and fellows co-theorize as they connect everyday lived experiences with their research process. BMM conversations are recorded in a studio, thematically analyzed, sound edited, and enhanced within an iterative process. The result is a series of five podcast episodes.
  • Quote: “The project will enrich public scholarship on the U.S.-Mexico border through its collective voicing of distinct insights of BorderLab fellows, its use of sound as the primary medium in which to produce knowledge, and its accessibility within and beyond the academic community.”

MARCOS SERAFIM
Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor Marcos Serafim
  • Project title: “MEMBRANA SEMIPERMEABLE”
  • Project aim: To create an immersive audiovisual installation and a performance piece that increase accessibility to available data about HIV/AIDS in the US/Mexico border employing cutting-edge tools for data visualization and documentary strategies.
  • Background: At the periphery of both countries’ economies, the region is affected by systematic social and economic disparities that co-exist with institutional racism and structural violence. In Arizona alone, HIV incidence among White individuals has had a 64% decrease from 1988 to 2020, whereas Hispanic individuals have had a 49% increase in new infections during the same period. In response to a pressing intersectional matter, the project explores queer-mestiza/o-PLWH (person living with HIV) subjectivity merging lens-based and computational strategies for image generation.
  • Quote: “The project lends immediacy to a complex entanglement of physiological, sociopolitical, and anthropological matters related to the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis. Health risks travel fluidly between borders.
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