Mexican American Studies and the Service Tradition


In the academic world, “Service” usually refers to the time and energy one devotes towards improving the business of scholarship: graduate student committees, editorial work, or service that benefits the university hierarchy.  However, for Mexican American or Chicana or Chicano scholars, “service” entails much more. Specifically it involves knowledge in the service of our ethnic or linguistic communities. In this page, I will concentrate on this latter category of service by describing some of the community involvement work that is a big part of my life… both the personal and scholarly.  


Consejo Consultivo del Instituto de Mexicanos en El Exterior (CCIME)

In 2009-2011 I served as a national advisory board member for the CCIME, representing the Tucson Consular district. Service in this capacity allowed me to trave to different parts of Mexico and Mexico, meet with politicians and community groups.

Here I am meeting Mexican President Calderon in 2010 at the Presidential Residence, Los Pinos, in Mexico City ... Anna O'Leary meeting Mexican President Calderon in 2010


...then me again (center) at a press conference with other "consejeras", Gloria Romo (left) and Floribella Redondo (right)  after a meeting with officials at a Migrant shelter and detention center in Tapachula, at Mexico's southern border with Guatemala where thousands of guatemaltecos cross into Mexico on their journey to the U.S.


The BInational Migration Institute

My central service contribution has come with my growing role as co-director of the Binational Migration Institute (BMI) within the Department of Mexican American Studies. I am also spear-heading efforts to create a dual-degree program with a partner institution in Mexico, the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, in part supported by a Small-Grant for Academic Collaboration in the Americas.

On the far right here is me presenting the book, Retratos de Fronteras with Colegio de Sonora colleague, Gloria Ciria Valdez Gardea, as one of several events celebrating BMI week. Attending were UofA students and guests from Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, who came to Tucson for the event.

The Coalición de Derechos Humanos

The Coalición de Derechos Humanos is a grassroots organization which has since 1994 worked to promote respect for human and civil rights, and bring awareness about the dramatic rise in migrant deaths since the mid 1990s.    Although many deaths occur once on U.S. soil, often due to high speed chases by authorities, most occur when in crossing the border migrants are exposed to the elements, especially extreme heat. More on this and other important projects can be learned by going to their website. Students interested in participating in internship project for university credit, can contact professor O'Leary.

As a non-governmental organization, one of the most important accomplishments of this organization is to bring attention to the continued deaths that have occurred on our borders, using pilgrimages, vigils and crosses (seen here) to commemorate those migrants whose failed attempts to cross the harsh Arizona-Sonora, ended with their demise. Shown here are participants of the annual "Migrant Trail" from Sasabe to Tucson, held every May.