Affecting Humanity, Challenging Exclusion, Moving-with Stories of Deportation

December 17, 2020


Sarah Hart Photo.jpeg I propose to present my work on the digital storytelling project Humanizing Deportation and the contact improvisation technique I co-developed for moving-with these stories. During 2016, I conducted fieldwork in Tijuana as part of this UC Davis Border Studies project, which uses digital storytelling to give a human face to experiences of deportation. In collaboration with community participants, we created an ongoing open-access archive ( that makes visible a range of personal narratives, from crossing the border in hopes of a better life to growing up in the US, serving in the US Military, the challenges of being undocumented, the atrocities of immigrant detention, families separate by the 'wall', unbreakable bonds of love, struggles with addiction, making a new life and building community. With this paper, I reflect on my community-engaged performance practice-as-research exploring the ways in which audiences in California can move-with these digital stories, and how this can become a humanizing experience that amplifies both speakers’ and listeners’ capacity to affect and be affected.

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Hou's Comments (Summary)

In Hart’s work, she explores the experience of migration and deportation not through exclusion and separation, but connectedness and interdependence. One of the storytellers, Esther Morales Guzman, a woman migrant/deportee, mother, entrepreneur, and activist, presents an especially powerful story. Her experience also opens up discussions on the care economy and flexible labor under globalization, which are often exploitative to migrant, minority and women of color.

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