Los Desconocidos: The Migrant Quilt Project

January 21, 2023

For centuries, quilting has been used as a way to bring attention to social issues of great significance, such as women’s suffrage. “Los Desconocidos: The Migrant Quilt Project” exhibition, currently on display at the Arizona History Museum, features a collection of handmade quilts that memorialize migrants who have died seeking refuge in the United States. Each quilt carries the names of those who have been identified or simply states “desconocido” or “unknown” for those who have not.

Between October, 1999 and December 2021 Humane Borders collected data on almost 4000 migrant deaths in the Tucson Sector, which emompases 262 linear miles of the Mexico-U.S. border. Human remains that cannot be identified are labeled “unknown” or desconocido/a in Spanish. The Migrant Quilt Project calls attention to the humanity of those who die trying to cross the Mexico-U.S. border—the would-be immigrants whose names and personhood are often missing from abstract conversations about illegal immigration.

This panel was presented by the Arizona Historical Society, who hold the Migrant Quilt Project in their collection. The Arizona Historical Society is proud to serve as the steward of Arizona’s history. The stories of the people, places, and events that have shaped Arizona are told through museum exhibits, programs, events, and outreach. 

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