Territorial recognition claims by indigenous groups have posed new challenges in a range of areas, such as the delivery of health care, community policing, veteran affairs, environmental and business rights. Contemporary scientific studies of these communities are struggling to explain how the members of these indigenous groups negotiate the various legal and political frameworks of the different territorial, municipal, regional, and state authorities within which they overlap. This project, which trains a graduate student in how to conduct rigorous, empirically-grounded scientific fieldwork, explores how these communities engage in territorial recognition when it bridges the borders of nation-states, a level of complexity that has hitherto not been significantly investigated.
Rocio Gil Martinez de Escobar, under the supervision of Dr. Marc Edelman of the City University of New York Graduate Center, explores the production and reproduction of Mascogo-Seminole sovereignty across the Mexico-United States border. Using a range of ethnographic methods of data collection and analysis including participant observation, oral history, and interviews, the project examines the strategic negotiations of the Mascogo-Seminole people with Mexico and the United States to achieve dual citizenship and to freely cross the international border. This case sheds light on the historical production of the Mexico-US border in the region of Texas-Coahuila through the particular lens of indigeneity, race, and ethnicity. It looks at the ways through which competing forms of racial and ethnic classification, as defined by two very different states, historically produce peoples in the borderlands. It offers a view into struggles of people divided by international borders and the possibilities of alternative practices of sovereignty that transcend nation-states: forms of transborder political organization, identification, flow of economic resources, etc. Finally, this research sheds light on the mechanisms through which ideas about race and indigeneity, and the rights attached to them, are established in the borderlands and how this may influence the political and legal practices of both nation-states. As such, in addition to providing funding for the training of a graduate student in anthropology, the project would provide data useful to policymakers and planners interested into the formulation and reform of border policy.