The Borderlands Archive is an active collection of research, mappings and contributed artifacts from the U.S.- Mexico borderlands that symbolize connection across territorial divide. Collected objects and information represent physical, social, political and environmental connections that form a counter-narrative, or collective public record about a contested space between two countries. 

Cempasuchil , 2018
(Specific) Location: Winter, CA
Item Number: BLA 030519-01
Description/Materials:  Tagetes Erecta/African Marigold
Date Collected: October 2018
Name of Contributor: Janaki Jagganath

Janaki Jagannath founded the Marigold Society in 2010 to collect cempasuchil or “marigold” seeds from members around the world and anonymously forward them to other members. Though the plant is native to modern-day Mexico, Cempasuchil is grown across the world because it is highly resilient and adaptable, having traveled with patterns of migration and colonization to find a place in ritual practices in many different cultures. In the US, home gardeners often planted rows of brightly-colored marigolds as a border around vegetable and herb gardens. Though it is still commonly believed that the plants' strong, fragrant, bitter taste helps repel rabbits and other unwanted pests, horticultural experts maintain there is little evidence marigold borders are effective as a repellent.

In November 2018, thousands of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the US reached the border town of Tijuana. Though the conditions they fled were decades old, these migrants had traveled on foot in a highly publicized collective movement for the right to safety. The large number of people awaiting hearings at the border led to the creation of makeshift shelters across Tijuana, where migrants slept in tents in places like freeway overpasses, soccer fields, and warehouses.

The seeds that grew into these flowers were gifted to Janaki in December 2018 while she served as a volunteer cook at Campamento Benito Juarez, a 250-person encampment in a warehouse in central Tijuana. After evening food service, Janaki spent time chatting with people in order to shift attention away from the immediate trauma they were facing. Upon hearing of the Marigold Society, one woman (anonymous), traveling with her 4 year old son, gifted Janaki a few dried cempasuchil blooms in a plastic bag she had carried with her on her journey from Honduras. She mentioned that she did not know when she would be able to plant them next.


about    contribute    files