Ulises Moreno-Tabarez; César Catsuu’ López; Keila Amayrani Martínez Martínez; Ayde Rodríguez López
Ñomdaa Territory (Amuzgo), México
Our work documents environmental racism in our home state of Guerrero, Mexico, especially in the Costa Chica region, an Afro-Indigenous geography. Our collective regional histories evince Black and Indigenous bios and mythos, symbiotic ecologies that have been forged over centuries. Our submission to the Environmental Racism is Garbage virtual symposium focuses on the socio-cultural and ecological impacts of extractivist mining in our state and region. The mining situation in Mexico has unearthed long histories of extractivism, accumulation by dispossession, and ecological devastation.
Our research, activism, and artwork documents the lifeways that are threatened by mining activity in the mountain region neighbouring Costa Chica. We come together with our mountain neighbours in defence of our territories, noting that our ecological and cosmological lifeworlds are deeply intertwined with theirs, particularly through waterways–rivers that begin up there and flow down here to the coastlines and ocean.
I am an interdisciplinary geographer with a background in performance studies. As a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics, I am working on a research project exploring Afro-Indigenous geographies in Guerrero’s coastal regions, my home state in Mexico. This research further develops what I call spectral geographies, spatial politics and poetics of presence and absence concerning political-economic and cultural lifescapes. I use ethnographic and participatory research methods to examine how human-nature relationships are re-negotiated due to climate change and state deployments of race and ethnicity. In this vein, one of my core concerns is the historical developments of Blackness and Indigeneity as spectral subjectivities, remnants of slavery and colonialism.
The key to understanding my artwork is to get to know the social, political, and cultural context in which I develop my work. My artistic work reflects the problems that the Ñomndaa (Amuzgo) territory has suffered in these last ten years due to the exploitation of our natural assets (water, forests, stone materials and minerals). These exploitative practices have further entrenched the power of caciques, powerful families with ties to the legacies of colonialism and mining companies in the sierra and mountain regions of Guerrero, Mexico. I work in continuous connection with my communities and collaborate closely with the ejido nuclei and other communal groups to defend the Ñomndaa and other Indigenous territories. That is how I look for the relationship of spirituality between the Ñomndaa thought with its natural environment, thus opposing extractive practices and defending our territory.
My artistic and activist practice reveals the development of the defence of the Ñomdaa (Amuzgo) and other Indigenous territories. We face multiple struggles, on a local level, we work against caciques, powerful families that have amassed generational wealth carried over from the colonial era. On an international level, we struggle against Canadian mining companies which have obtained federal concessions for the extraction and exploitation of minerals on Indigenous lands. These federal concessions impinge on Indigenous rights to our territories and their legal status remain contested in our legal systems.
I am an autodidactic artist from Comaltepec, Guerrero, a small pueblo in the municipality of Cuajinicuilapa. My work focuses on Afrodescendant peoples, our cultures, our histories and myths. My work surveys our co-dependent relationships to our environment: rivers, vegetation, oceans, and wild animals, some of which are mythical, noting how the physical is intertwined with the spiritual. The animals in my paintings sometimes stand for people and vice-versa, they can be both spiritual and material but always vibrant with different colors, facets, and light. Overall, my work documents the spiritual and material interdependence we have with our environment.