Project Director

Jason De León is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and the director of the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP). He received his Ph.D. from Penn State University and B.A. from UCLA. His CV can be found here DELEON_CV_4_2013. Jason is  also a singer-songwriter who has recorded and released several albums with the Long Beach, California  based hardcore-reggae group Youth In Asia in the 1990s and with the Central Pennsylvania based group The Wilcox Hotel. He also records and performs as a solo artist and has toured extensively in the U.S. and Mexico. Jason once hosted a short-lived television show on the Discovery Channel called American Treasures, which allowed him to hang out with Mardi Gras Indians and the Drive-By Truckers.

Post-Doctoral Researchers and Collaborators

Dr. Cameron Gokee  currently co-directs the UMP Summer Field School and supervises the UMP lab housed at the University of Michigan. Cameron also directs the Central Falémé Archaeological Project in Senegal, a long-term archaeological research program that examines how local communities participated in a variety of historical processes—including the shift from mobile hunting and herding to sedentary village life, the rise and fall of medieval empires, the violence of the Atlantic slave trade, the spread of Islam, and ultimately, the imposition of colonialism. Additional information on Cameron’s work can be found here.



Michael Wells is a Los Angeles based photographer who has worked on the UMP since 2009. His photos can be viewed here and galleries related to the UMP can be found here (2009) and here (2010).

Robyn Dennis is a post-doctoral researcher at University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technology who has worked on the UMP since 2010. Information regarding Robyn’s research interests can be found here.

Staff and Students

Sam Grabowska is a doctoral student in Architecture at the University of Michigan. She holds a BA in architecture, a BFA in film, and a masters in interdisciplinary humanities. She’s interested in the “marginal” spaces of the built environment: where people make a home away from home, and where they go to escape the confines, crises, or banality in their everyday lives. Currently she is focusing on the informal architecture that undocumented migrants and drug smugglers create when crossing the Mexico-U.S. border, looking at both the materiality and mode of construction of the shelters, the surrounding socio-political landscapes of power, and the bodily experience of inhabiting the shelters. More information on Sam’s work can found here.




John Doering-White is a doctoral student in Anthropology and Social Work at the University of Michigan. He received his  BA in Human Development and Social Relations and Spanish and Hispanic Studies from Earlham johndoeringwhiteCollege in Richmond, IN.  John is looking forward to ethnographic research within migrant shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border. He is interested in investigating the gritty spaces between ethics and politics within humanitarian projects that work with immigrants.












HaedenPicHaeden Stewart is a doctoral student in anthropology/archaeology at the University of Chicago.  He received a BA in archaeology from the University of Toronto and an MA from the University of Chicago.  His research focus is on historical and contemporary archaeology in Western Canada.  His only real discernible talent is identifying people and things that come from Canada.









Ashley “Shooby” Schubert is a doctoral student in Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan and joined the UMP field school in 2010.  She received her B.A. from Wake Forest University and M.A. from the University of Michigan.  Her research focusesschooby on prehistoric Cherokee communities in the Appalachian Summit during the emergence of Mississippian societies throughout the Southeastern U.S.  Her interests within the UMP project relate to interactions with Border Patrol, the material record deposited by the state-sanctioned corporal body, and how Border Patrol and undocumented migrant material culture are inter-related within a system that self-perpetuates inequality of power and sovereignty.  Overall, her broader focus is on culture contact systems and the material record of community response to socio-political and ecological pressures.   Additional information on Shooby’s work can be found here.





Anna Forringer-Beal is currently studying anthropology as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan and also planning on minoring in Spanish. Her interest is in how migrant sites (also known as migrant stations) are formed and the later deconstructed by conservation groups, natural processes, and UMP artifact collection. Her current work focuses on what types of information can be gleaned from analyses of the micro-facts (minute and often fragmented artifacts), that are left behind by conservation groups who often remove migrant artifacts from the desert.






Maya Fernandez is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan concentrating in Anthropology and Spanish.  A lover of cartography, Maya is currently focused on mapping migrant death in the Sonora Desert and analyzing the spatial data.  Her research 40069_1439394666950_2195068_n - Version 2interests include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the impact of landscapes, forensic processes related to death, the cultural gastronomy of Mexico, ethnography of violence in Latin America, and the displacement of people and cultures.









justine-bio-picJustine Auben Drummond
is an anthropology honors undergraduate student at the University of Victoria. She attended the 2012 UMP field school, and will return in 2013 as a volunteer staff member. Drummond’s research is focused upon the materiality of humanitarian water sites. She will complete her B.A. in 2014, and plans to pursue a doctorate of anthropology/archaeology. In her free time, she enjoys writing about herself in the third person. She is also an amateur stand-up comedian.