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Countervoices Summer Research Seminar

Wednesday 27 April 2022, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Rebecca Bevington

Join our PG forum’s third research seminar of 2022, part of a series of events that offer postgraduate students in the Centre for Modern Studies and beyond the opportunity to present a short piece of work to an interdisciplinary audience. The event consists of a presentation by Rebecca Bevington followed by a Q&A. If you have any questions or queries, please email:

‘Taking Down Walls’: border crossings, brutality and authorial carelessness in Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazari

On lists of set texts for secondary and higher education literature courses across the U.S., Sonia Nazario’s 2006 non-fiction book Enrique’s Journey is routinely featured. Nazario, an investigative journalist, reconstructs the route taken by Enrique, a seventeen-year-old Honduran boy, from his home of Tegucigalpa through Mexico by ‘freight-hopping’ - riding the tops of cargo trains. Enrique eventually reaches his mother Lourdes, an undocumented domestic worker who departed for the U.S. twelve years earlier to lift her family out of poverty. The book’s pedagogical appeal is articulated by Ashley Boyd and Jeanne Dyches in their article, ‘Taking Down Walls’, as they argue for its positive impact on students’ imaginative and empathetic

capacities, and its ability to ‘humanise migrants’ and ‘achieve social justice goals’ in the classroom. But the book often reproduces dehumanising representations of Central Americans, depictions of extreme violence, and dichotomies of ‘genuine’ and ‘bogus’ border-crossings. In this paper, I question why Enrique’s Journey is considered an effective political intervention and counter-narrative to racist anti-migrant discourses, arguing that the book’s invasive and morally self-gratifying tendency to excavate moments of trauma experienced by marginalised people curtails its ability to offer resources for political education.

Rebecca Bevington is a PhD Candidate in the University of York's Department of English and Related Literature, funded by the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH). Rebecca's thesis focuses on the literary testimonies and representations of refugee women. Rebecca is particularly interested in the interaction between domestic and care labour, bio politics, and displacement, as well as intersectional feminism and political philosophy, memoir and postcolonial fiction.

Location: Online