The Center for the Study of the Southwest
All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands;
A reading by Stephanie Elizondo Griest
Thursday, September 7th | 11:00-12:20 pm
The Wittliff Collections
After a decade of chasing stories around the globe, intrepid travel writer Stephanie Elizondo Griest followed the magnetic pull home—only to discover that her native South Texas had been radically transformed in her absence. Ravaged by drug wars and barricaded by an eighteen-foot steel wall, her ancestral land had become the nation’s foremost crossing ground for undocumented workers, many of whom perished along the way. The frequency of these tragedies seemed like a terrible coincidence, before Elizondo Griest moved to the New York / Canada borderlands. Once she began to meet Mohawks from the Akwesasne Nation, however, she recognized striking parallels to life on the southern border. Having lost their land through devious treaties, their mother tongues at English-only schools, and their traditional occupations through capitalist ventures, Tejanos and Mohawks alike struggle under the legacy of colonialism. Toxic industries surround their neighborhoods while the U.S. Border Patrol militarizes them. Combating these forces are legions of artists and activists devoted to preserving their indigenous cultures. Complex belief systems, meanwhile, conjure miracles. In All the Agents and Saints, Elizondo Griest weaves seven years of stories into a meditation on the existential impact of international borderlines by illuminating the spaces in between and the people who live there.
Stephanie Elizondo Griest is author of the award-winning memoirs Around the Bloc and Mexican Enough. Assistant professor of creative nonfiction at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she has lectured across the globe, including as U.S. State Department literary ambassador to Venezuela in 2015, and has been Henry Luce Scholar in China, Hodder Fellow at Princeton, and winner of the Margolis Award for Social Justice Reporting. Visit her website at StephanieElizondoGriest.com.