September 19, 2016

Mesa, US Holocaust Memorial Museum to Co-host Symposium

Landscapes of Displacement: Borderlands in Comparative Perspective

By Lauren J. Mapp

This 1937 photograph by Dorothea Lange shows children of migratory Mexican field workers in California’s Coachella Valley. Source: Library of Congress

San Diego Mesa College and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will co-host an interdisciplinary symposium on borderlands, refugees and displacement on campus at the Mesa Commons in room MC211A&B on Friday, Sept. 23 starting at 1 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 24 starting at 9 a.m.


“Landscapes of Displacement: Borderlands in Comparative Perspective” is one of a series of symposia supported by the USHMM. Faculty, scholars, students and other interested parties are welcome to attend the conference and join the discussion on displacement and border issues.


Charles Zappia, dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Multicultural Studies, said that this upcoming professional conference – a first of its kind to be hosted at Mesa College – is important for strengthening a community of scholars in the San Diego Community College District.


“I think it’s very important at Mesa that we stress our belief that there is a crucial link between scholarship and teaching, and that’s sometimes overlooked at community colleges since our emphasis focuses so strongly on teaching,” Zappia said. “In our school, in particular, we spend a lot of time making sure tenured faculty and – as much as possible – our adjunct faculty remain involved in the scholarship of their disciplines, and professional conferences like this help to facilitate that.”


Combining African American/Africana/Black studies, American Indian studies, Asian American studies, Holocaust Studies, and Latina/o and Chicana/o studies, the event will have panels on a variety of subjects such as “Displacement and Educational Equity” and “Pedagogy of and on the Borderlands.”


The keynote address on “Curating Forensics: Displaced Objects from the Holocaust and Latin America” will be given on Friday, Sept. 23 at 5:30 p.m. by Dr. Stephenie Young – an associate professor in the Department of English at Salem State University.


Young, who is a 2015-2017 research fellow for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, teaches an interdisciplinary studies course on post-World War II Genocides at Salem State. She is currently writing a book titled “The Forensics of Memorialization” a text about the “‘forensic imagination’ and how forensic materials have been used to develop visual narratives and art installations that shape the discourse of the memorialization process in a post-conflict, former Yugoslavia,” according to her profile on Salem State’s website.


Zappia said that due to the college’s location near the Mexican border and the ethnic makeup of the student population that this conference can provide useful educational tools for the students and faculty at Mesa.


“Border conditions and relations are always topics at Mesa in many of our courses,” Zappia said. “We definitely want to continue studies on border issues. The Mexican border is right there, and we have a percentage of students who identify as Latino or Latina at 36 percent right now, so these are important issues for us as a border city.”


Mesa College faculty members that will take part in the event as panel members or moderators include Zappia, Assistant Professor Jennifer Sime (Anthropology), Adjunct Professor Anta Anthony Merritt (Black Studies), Instructor Martina Pfleger Hesser (Art History), Assistant Professor Gloria Kim (History) and Assistant Professor Michael Cox (History).


The event is free and open to the public, but registration is highly encouraged through the USHMM website. All registered attendees will receive lunch on Saturday, catered by the Mesa College Culinary Arts/Management students and faculty.


This upcoming event has come to fruition due to grants from the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation (a non-profit, charitable foundation based in New York City) and the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation (a non-profit based in Foxborough, Massachusetts) to the USHMM. Two-thirds of the cost of the conference is supported by the USHMM and these grants, and one third of the cost is being paid for by the President’s Office at Mesa College.

Tags: USHMM, Landscapes of Displacement, Holocaust studies

Additional Information


Jennifer Nichols Kearns
Director of Communications
(619) 388-2356

Charles Zappia
Dean of Social/Behavioral Sciences & Multicultural Studies
(619) 388-2801