Jason De León is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He directs the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a long-term anthropological study of clandestine migration between Mexico and the United States that uses a combination of ethnographic, visual, archaeological, and forensic approaches to understand this violent social process. He has published numerous academic articles and his work with the UMP has been featured in a variety of popular media outlets. For more information on this research go here.

Jason was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2013 and was the Weatherhead Resident Scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the 2013-2014 academic year. He was awarded the 2016 Margaret Mead Award for his book “The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail” (featuring photos by Michael Wells). He is also on the Academic Board for the Institute for Field Research, a nonprofit organization operating over 42 field schools in 25 countries across the globe. Jason’s curriculum vita can be found here DELEON_CV_12-2017.

Prior to joining the faculty at Michigan in the Fall of 2010, Jason taught in the anthropology department at the University of Washington for two years. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Penn State University in 2008 and earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at UCLA (2001). As an undergraduate at UCLA he gained his first experience conducting research in Mexico.  His dissertation research focused on the development of early political economy and stone tool production among the ancient Olmec of Mesoamerica.

In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Jason is an active musician who played with the Long Beach based hardcore-punk-reggae band Youth in Asia in the mid to late 1990’s and the Americana band The Wilcox Hotel based out of State College, PA between 2005 and 2008. He is currently involved in various musical projects in Ann Arbor, MI.


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