Charles Thompson
Charles Thompson
Credit: Rob Amberg

Take an unusual US-Mexico road trip with former farmer turned activist and Duke University Professor Charlie Thompson, author of "Border Odyssey: Travels along the US-Mexico Divide." Thompson shares his story Monday, Oct.19 at 3 p.m. in the Frank Waters Room (Room105) in Zimmerman Library.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, this book is one of the most interesting titles released this year.

This one-of-a-kind event is recommended for all interested in really getting to understand the US-Mexico Border: its varied landscape, its secret histories, and its stories.

As the author explains, “Stories are the opposite of walls: they demand release, retelling, showing, connecting; each image chipping away at boundaries. Walls are full stops, but stories are like commas, always making possible the next clause.”

Thompson will discuss his Steinbeck-inspired travels as in “Travels with Charley;” show the carefully chosen route – towns on both sides, avoiding highways, and as he says so well “the useful fiction of a map” – and the best photographs he took along the way.  He will also show a short film about an event that took place in his travels.

Visit the Border Odyssey website for a great map charting the entire trip town-by-town. 

Thompson has led student groups to the US-Mexico Border for seven years now. At the acclaimed Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Thompson serves as director of undergraduate studies, and also professor of the practice of cultural anthropology.

His lifelong interest in food justice and migrant workers began while farming in Chatham County, NC, and developed as he served in leadership roles at farmers markets and earned a Ph.D. in Religion and Culture, from UNC-Chapel Hill.

His compelling books and films intertwine agriculture and immigration, culture and philosophy: “Brother Towns,” the Guatemala and Florida-set documentary; “The Guestworker,” the award-winning, nuanced portrait of a 66-year-old migrant worker; “The Old German Baptist Brethren,” about faith, farming, and change in the Virginia Blue Ridge; “Spirits of Just Men,” about mountaineers, liquor bosses, and lawmen in the moonshine capital of the world; and "The Human Cost of Food,” about farmworkers’ lives, labor, and advocacy; and finally “Border Odyssey.”

The lecture is free and open to the public.