David Bacon participated in the Bellagio residency program in 2004. During this residency he worked on Communities Without Borders: Images and Voices From the World of Migration (ILR Press, 2006). David is a photojournalist, author, political activist and union organizer who specializes in issues relating to immigrant labor.
A few words with David
“While at the Bellagio Center, I edited the oral histories I’d collected and my introductions that make up the text, and made final selections of the photographs. Presentations by Michael Honey [historian and Haley Professor of Humanities at the University of Washington Tacoma] and Jorge Hernandez [Professor of Anthropology and senior researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Sociológicas] were particularly enlightening and memorable during my time at the Center.
“What was particularly challenging in this work was protecting the identities of the undocumented migrants who spoke about their border-crossing experiences.
“I would encourage anyone interested in this work to explore alternative proposals for immigration reform that are based in immigrant communities, like the Dignity Campaign for immigration reform based on human and labor rights.”
Encompassing photojournalism and oral history, Communities Without Borders explores the new reality of the migrant experience: the creation of transnational communities. Today’s indigenous migrants don’t simply move from one point to another but create new communities all along the northern road from Guatemala through Mexico into the United States, connected by common culture and history.
Drawing on his experience as a photographer, journalist and former labor organizer, Bacon portrays the lives of the people who migrate along this route north. He takes us inside these communities and illuminates the ties that bind them together, the influence of their working conditions on their families and health, and their struggle for better lives.
Throughout the book, Bacon emphasizes the social movements that migrants organize to improve their own working conditions and the wellbeing of their enclaves. Communities Without Borders makes an urgent appeal for understanding the human reality that should inform the U.S. national debate over immigration.