A student-centered collaborative initiative at UC San Diego

Category: Reflections

Voice of the Detained

This project was conducted for the Race and Oral History Course at UCSD in the Spring of 2019. This post is a reflection on the limits of oral history and ways to overcome them through an engagement with the letter. The letter I chose was written by a Mexican mother to Detainee Allies.. She is 37 years and had been living in San Diego for 19 years before being detained. In this post, you will find a reflection on how to rethink oral history thanks to an artifact. I will provide a personal analysis of the letter, highlighting sections that articulate the following themes: endless violence, militarized border, family, vulnerability and confinement. The goal of this project is to amplify the voice of one detainee confined at Otay Mesa Detention Center. Closed from the outside world and deprived of face-to-face interactions, detainees have resorted to letter writing to speak out and to convey their humanity. Reading their letters creates a form of encounter that approximates an oral history interview.