“Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. a border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary.
It is a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.” excerpt from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, by Gloria Anzaldua

As an intellectual space, the academy provides a space for the exchange of dynamic and inventive ideas, research, and praxis-oriented engagement. Yet, scholarship focused on issues of power and inequality, race, class, gender, sexualities, identity, and embodiment is often push to the margins of many fields. Likewise, theoretical and epistemological perspectives that employ critical race and anti-racist frameworks, feminist and queer theor(ies), post-colonial and transnational narratives, are left isolated within wider academic discourse. This phenomenon is magnified by popular ideologies that assert that a small group of people and perspectives fit the description of: 1) what is considered to be knowledge, 2) who is considered valid to know, and necessarily, and 3) who can produce viable data. Thus, discourse related to these areas are increasingly political and precarious in their iterations, especially when considering the changing political climate regarding in the United States regarding which bodies are acceptable and which bodies transgress [national, racial, ethnic, sexual, ideological] boundaries.

Those who push against these boundaries often find themselves existing beyond their own disciplines, using complex methodologies, deploying complicated theoretical perspectives, and engaging in conversations that redefine the lines that mark our academic fields and our social worlds. Additionally, we recognize the ways in which transnational narratives help to illuminate connections between political and social while also offering alternative perspectives of ‘critical’ theories, research, and resistance.  The creation of the Borderlands Critical Graduate Symposium stems from these roots. This was evident in the 2016 conference theme Beyond Bridges and Barbwire: Expanding Our Knowledges, Imagining Possibility. Through these contradictions, we have found entry-points towards a more nuanced and interdisciplinary understanding within scholarship, art, and activism.

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Borderlands 2017’s Theme– Inequality: Transmutations and Contestations. Inspired by a working group sponsored by El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies, this two-day symposium seeks to bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines to discuss & generate critical scholarship, network, and grow as intellectuals, both in and outside of the academy.