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New TAMIU Lecture Series on Social Sciences Bows Friday with ‘Invisible Graves: Migrant Deaths in the Texas Desert’ Posted: 1/30/20

New TAMIU Lecture Series on Social Sciences Bows Friday with ‘Invisible Graves: Migrant Deaths in the Texas Desert’


Dr. Kate Spradley, Guest Lecturer
Dr. Kate Spradley, Guest Lecturer  

A new lecture series at Texas A&M International University  (TAMIU) aims to encourage a discussion of contemporary issues across the social sciences and bows Friday, Feb.  7.

Social Sciences Speakers Series organizer Dr. Sean A. Maddan, TAMIU associate professor and chair of the College of Arts and Sciences’ department of Social Sciences, said the Series is free of charge and open to all. 

“We’re excited to present a slate of speakers who will introduce a range of research findings across the fields of anthropology, criminal justice, geography and sociology,” Dr. Maddan explained, “we encourage members of the University community and community at large to join us.”

The first in the new Series, “Invisible Graves: Migrant Deaths in the Texas Desert,”  will be offered Friday, Feb. 7 in Academic Innovation Center (AIC), room 127 from 1 – 2 p.m. by Dr. Kate Spradley, Texas State University professor of Anthropology. 

Dr. Spradley’s lecture shares the plight of thousands of Mexican and Central American migrants that cross the United States border every year. The majority of migrants that die in Texas, in their pursuit of refuge, asylum, or a better life, are buried in unmarked graves in remote cemeteries with no regard to identification efforts, violating human rights of the dead and creating a humanitarian crisis. As a forensic anthropologist with extensive experience exhuming and identifying unidentified migrants, Spradley will discuss migrant deaths in Texas within the broader context of migration, identification and repatriation, human rights, and dignity.

She received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Tennessee and her BA and MA from the University of Arkansas.  A biological anthropologist, Spradley specializes in forensic anthropology. 

She has published over 30 peer-reviewed publications in national and international venues including the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Journal of Forensic Sciences, and Forensic Science International.  She has received over $1.9 million in grant funding.  Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Daily, Discover Magazine, Newsweek, and The Guardian

Additional Series 2020 offerings include: 

Friday, Feb. 14 – 1 – 2 p.m., AIC 127 --  “Maya-Mam Territorial Visions that Denaturalize Borders,”  by Dr. Jeffrey Gardner, assistant professor of Sociology at Sam Houston State University.

Friday, March 13 – 1 – 2 p.m., AIC 127 -- “Assessing Flood Exposure and Adaptive Behavior for a Mobile Population,” by Dr. Ashley Coles, assistant professor of Geography at Texas Christian University.

Friday, April 10 – 1-2 p.m., AIC 127 – “Criminal Justice, Civil Discourse and the Hidden Costs of Hyper-Partisanship: Evidence Across the 50 States,” by Dr. Nicholas P. Lovrich, Regents Professor Emeritus and a Claudius O. and Mary W. Johnson Distinguished Professor in Political Science at Washington State University.

For additional information on the Social Sciences Speaker Series, please contact Dr. Maddan at or 956.326.2467.

TAMIU is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and its 25th Anniversary at its north Laredo campus throughout 2020. A dedicated website shares the University’s remarkable transformation from a hybrid upper-level University to a full doctoral degree-granting University with over 29,000 graduates worldwide that enrolls over 8,400 students. Visit the calendar of Anniversary events, explore the University’s timeline, review alumni profiles and more at 

For more on the University’s story, contact the TAMIU Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, email, click on or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268.

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