Library Exhibitions

Hostile Terrain 94 | Separated

Library Exhibitions

Hostile Terrain 94 | Separated

Jump to: Separated


March 9 – May 31, 2021
Location: Otto G. Richter Library

Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) is a participatory art exhibition created by the Undocumented Migration Project, a non-profit research and arts-education collective directed by University of California, Los Angeles anthropologist Jason De León. Co-presented by the Learning Commons at the University of Miami Libraries, this installation is intended to raise awareness about the realities of the U.S. and Mexico border and focuses on the deaths that have been happening almost daily since 1994 as a direct result of the Border Patrol policy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence.”

The exhibit involves the collective creation of a 25-foot-long map of the U.S. and Mexico border formed from roughly 3,200 toe tags representing migrants who have lost their lives trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2020. These tags are geolocated on a wall map of the desert showing the exact locations where human remains were found. Beige tags represent people who have been identified, and orange ones represent unidentified human remains. Several feature QR codes that connect to online content regarding migrant issues along America’s southern border.

The construction of this memorial is realized with the help of local volunteers who have hand-written the information of the dead. The physical act of writing out the names and information for the deceased invites participants to reflect, witness, and stand in solidarity with those who have lost their lives in search of a better one.

The creation and installation of HT94 at the University of Miami Libraries is designed as a reflective learning experience for students and members of the University community who are interested in related issues and disciplines — art, politics, migration, curation, map-making, anthropology, and history.

For more information about the exhibition, related events, and to learn about how to get involved, please visit the Hostile Terrain 94 website. For further reading and additional resources, please visit the research guide for this exhibition.

Special thanks to our University of Miami sponsors: Department of Anthropology, Department of English, Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas, Latin American Studies Program, William R. Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, and the Libraries



March 9 – May 31, 2021
Otto G. Richter Library
First Floor

In 2018 the U.S. Department of Justice began enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented migration into the United States, even in pursuit of asylum. As part of this policy, the Trump administration implemented family separations at the southern U.S. border. Thousands of children — hundreds of whom ranged from infancy to age five — were placed in facilities across the United States while their parents or guardians were held in detention centers and/or deported. During the development and enforcement of this policy, record-keeping that would allow eventual reunification of children with their families was lax or nonexistent, and by the end of 2020, 628 children remained in U.S. custody. On February 2, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at reuniting these children with their families. But the ongoing and lasting trauma of this cruel policy cannot be understated—or forgotten.

Presented by the Learning Commons at University of Miami Libraries, Separated draws inspiration from the reflective and participatory elements of Hostile Terrain 94, emerging in a collaborative tribute to the children who still need to be re-connected with their families. Developed by Roxane Pickens (former director of the Learning Commons) and borrowing from the iconography of children’s crafts, volunteers cut chains of paper dolls from vellum — 628 in total — and accented each with gold leaf following a meditative process that echoed the construction of Hostile Terrain 94's toe tags. Additionally, special memorial dolls were made to honor seven children who have tragically died through this system of neglect. Separated honors them and the others who are with us, in witness to the fragile and precious lives of children awaiting their families’ love and care.

For further reading and additional resources, please visit the research guide for this exhibition.

Special thanks to student volunteers from the William R. Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development at the University of Miami, and students from Florida International University, Design and Architecture Senior High School, Coral Gables Senior High School, Coral Reef High School, and Miami Beach South Pointe Elementary School. Thanks to the University of Miami Libraries Learning Commons and Zuleta Arts, LLC, for co-sponsoring this exhibition. Additional thanks to Jay Sylvestre for creating the memorial dolls and to Amanda Moreno, Annie Sansone-Martínez, and Juan Villanueva for translation.