Wed 6/24, 7pm – 8pm
Charles Thompson discusses his new nonfiction book Border Odyssey
Introduction by Dr. Kevin Hunt of the CHICLE Language Institute
Border Odyssey is a quixotic, modern-day, too-small-rental-car determined drive toward understanding the US-Mexico divide: all 1,969 miles. It is former farmer, turned activist, photographer and Steinbeck-inspired author, Charles D. Thompson, Jr. who makes the trip, sometimes with awe and wide-eyed students, sometimes with comedy, misadventure, and Hope, his wife—all the while pressing on with what he calls the useful fiction of a map. Though observation and meditation, Border Odyssey scopes like no other book the contradictory pulses of the people and towns on both sides.
Charles D. Thompson, Jr. is Professor of the Practice of Cultural Anthropology and Documentary Studies at Duke University.
"The common thread through all of my work — whether as a professor, author, filmmaker, or photographer — is a deep concern for people doing their all to have a voice in our agricultural systems. I try to lead my students and broader audiences into conversations with those who are all too often invisible to those who eat.”
Thompson holds a Ph.D. in religion and culture from UNC-Chapel Hill, with concentrations in cultural studies and Latin American studies. He also holds an M.S. degree in Agricultural Education from NC A&T State University. His particular interests include farmworkers, immigration, agriculture, and Appalachian Studies. His methodology includes oral history, ethnographic writing, documentary filmmaking, and collaborative community activism.
A former farmer, Thompson remains concerned about issues affecting laborers within our food system. He has written about farmworkers, and he is an advisory board member of Student Action with Farmworkers, the Duke Campus Farm, and other Duke food and agriculture initiatives.
Thompson is author or editor of six books. Prior to Border Odyssey: Traveling the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he wrote Spirits of Just Men: Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World. He is also editor, with Melinda Wiggins, of The Human Cost of Food: Farmworker Lives, Labor, and Advocacy.
Thompson’s latest project, Border Odyssey, is a website/photography exhibit/book/film combination.