In the HCPCP, the stakeholders are everyone that lives in this community. This includes those surviving family members of the people buried there as well as those of us who live here but aren’t connected specifically to the cemetery. We (each of us students) are absolutely part of this community, some of us more overtly than others, but we all live and work in this community. The definition of this community I have in mind when I write this has certainly evolved and expanded beyond what is traditionally thought of as community (like neighborhoods or people of a certain culture) due to the advances of modern technology and the local integration of cultures and neighborhoods driven by UTRGV. So when I say this community, I am speaking very broadly of all those who live and work in the local community of Edinburg as well as the Lower Rio Grande Valley, because we share a common regional identity.
I think we all benefit from positive publicity and research outcomes, and we all look bad when it turns out that our community treated its poorest member’s dead with neglect. Hidalgo County is certainly not the only county to have neglected its “pauper” cemetery; bringing light to this example and showing how we can use research to start to repay for the neglect over the years is a great way to encourage other communities to do the same to their own neglected pauper cemeteries. Additionally, if it turns out that the county wants to change the way it handles this cemetery and invests in new procedures or archiving methods, we will pay for that with our tax money, as well as benefit from improved recordkeeping at the County offices. Further, asking the hard questions about how a community treats its poorest member’s dead loved ones makes us all consider our own mortality, and confront our own inner conflicts about death and what it means.
In this situation, the families of the dead in HCPCP would benefit greatly from our investigations, because they are able to see tangible benefits like the addition of historical and physical context to the graves. Without our foreign perspective, this project would not have happened. And if we held back on this investigation because of our cultural separation, then we would be doing actual harm to those family members, by not applying our knowledge and resources to preserving the heritage that they cannot preserve for themselves. Every day we wait, these graves fall further into disrepair, and lose more of their data. We have a duty to do what we can to help, because we have the skills and resources to do so. We know that we are outsiders to the community of people buried in the cemetery, but in a way, we are the descendants of the people who decided to treat the poor differently, and we are currently benefitting from the decisions made by those who were in charge of Hidalgo County in the past by taking advantage of the public services paid for by them. So, we are related. And we should work to do what we can to right the past wrongs.