Jason De Leon

Jason De Leon


  • Email: jpdeleon@umich.edu
  • Phone: 734.764.8577
  • Office: 223-A West Hall, 1085 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor MI 48109-1107
  • CV
  • Ph.D. 2008, Penn State University

Research Interests


  • Violence
  • Materiality
  • Taphonomy
  • Forensic science
  • Archaeology of the contemporary
  • Crime
  • Latin American migration


  • U.S./Mexico border
  • Latin America
  • Urban U.S.

Research Projects

Research Description

I am anthropologist whose research interests include theories of violence, materiality, death and mourning, Latin American migration, crime and forensic analyses, and archaeology of the contemporary. I direct the Undocumented Migration Project, a long-term study of clandestine border crossing that uses a combination of ethnographic, archaeological, and forensic approaches to understand this phenomenon in a variety of geographic contexts including the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona and Northern Mexican border towns. My research on migration has been published in a wide range of journals including American Anthropologist, Journal of Forensic Sciences, and Journal of Contemporary Archaeology. I am currently finishing a book manuscript tentatively titled Undocumented: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail that draws on five years of field work in Arizona and Northern Mexico. In Undocumented, I argue that current institutionalized U.S. border enforcement policies are based on the construction and perpetuation of migrant death and suffering, much of which is carried out by creating a crossing environment where temperature, terrain, and animals have replaced fences and guns. I posit that archaeology and taphonomic studies can provide new insight into how people attempt to survive the desert and illuminate how the decomposition of corpses is a sociopolitical process that is deeply implicated in the construction of different forms of violence.