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Assembly Series

A tradition of convening thought leaders since 1953

McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

The Experience: Cathartic Writing, Collectivity and Care Among Undocumented Mexican Immigrants

Tuesday, February 14, 2023 | 4:00 PM

McMillan Hall, G052
McMillan Hall, 1 Brookings Dr, St. Louis, MO 63130

This talk draws from an ethnography of a little-known therapeutic community of undocumented Mexican immigrants living in the United States. The foundation of this community is a grueling three-day healing ritual called an experience (la experiencia). This talk describes one such experience that took place in the Northern California forest in 2019, focusing on its novel practice of cathartic writing. I argue that this writing practice is far more than a tool for self-care or self-expression; it is also a medium for collectivity and political critique, one that helps us examine the limits of the biomedical self. By writing a “self” that is never alone, the experience provides a mode of care and healing that enables immigrants to collectively weather and represent the myriad forms of violence that accompany undocumented life.


Arts & Sciences



Event Contact


Speaker Information
Angela Garcia, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University
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