Morales receives Summer Pre-Dissertation Grant

Ph.D. Candiate Claudia Morales has received the 2020 Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) Pre-Dissertation Grant


 The Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies grant is an award to support research during the summer of 2020. the awards may be used for travel to develop a dissertation proposal by undertaking preliminary research, doing fieldwork, exploring archives, conducting interviews, and overall data collection activities.  

To be eligible applicants must have compelted mandatory coursework, be in the process of preparing for advanced doctora candidacy as established by their own department or preparing a dissertation proposal.  Priorty is given to students enrolled or planning to enroll in the Graduate Certificate in Latin American, CAribbean and Latino Studies.  Awardees are expected to present a research report in a collective coloquium on their research in the Fall 2020.


Claudia's project focus is: "Experience and political activism of disabled migrants from Central America who have lost limbs during their migration journey through Mexico on the train known as "The Beast".

Abstract:  The display of the mutilated bodies of migrants with disabilities has become important to Central-American migrant activism in Mexico, Guatemala, and the United States; yet migration studies have tended to rely on normative conceptions of the productively able-bodied. My aim is to challenge the idea of a universal migrant body, an idea around which misleading assumptions about migration have tended to crystallize, by centering the embodied experience of migrants with disabilities. Migrants who have lost limbs riding La Bestia live the tensions that emerge between the alternating apparatuses of terror and compassion intervening in their lives. These apparatuses incessantly demand proof of deservingness in idioms of defenselessness and victimization. Working with the activist organizations "Immigrants with Disabilities" and the humanitarian and activist organizations in Mexico (e.g. Albergue del Buen Pator, Cruz Roja Mexicana) I will ask, how do the disfigured bodies of these organization's membership embody a distinct voice of protest? What do their particular enactments of suffering tell us about our understanding of human suffering? How does political activism transform the post-amputation experience? And what might such experience illuminate about subjectivity, political agency, and identity formation more generally? 

 This study intertwines attention to the body and language. Against the backdrop of the political economy of suffering, I will track how migrants build solidarity, exploring what attention to language can reveal about processes of embodiment and subjectivity. Through classic ethnographic research and engaged praxis, this multi-sited research (including sites in Mexico, Guatemala, and the United States) will attempt not only to trace, but also to intervene in, the nexus of authenticity and suffering as currently constructed and publicly propagated in humanitarian and activist circles alike.