115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

2501 migrantes…y algo más

Conor Harris, University of California, Riverside

This paper proposes to explore, rather than solely the migrant's experience of the new, the way that relations of communality and collective non-western subjectivity are sustained in migration, return, and/or death. I will approach these themes through a reading of Yolanda Cruz’s film 2501 migrantes alongside, and exploring, the thinking of communality as a way of life in indigenous communities in southern Mexico.

Proposal: 

When speaking of immigration and the re-settling of the migrant, there is a frequent and understandable emphasis placed on the experience of the new- place, life, people. This paper proposes to explore, rather than solely the new, the way that relations of communality and collective non-western subjectivity are sustained in migration, return, and death. I will approach these themes through a reading of Yolanda Cruz’s film 2501 migrantes alongside, and exploring, the thinking of communality as a way of life in indigenous communities in southern Mexico. In documenting the artistic project from which the film draws its title, itself the project of a migrant who returned from France to his home town in southern Mexico, the film complicates any simple conceptualization of the relations between migrants and their points of departure, emphasizing a multidirectional network of communal relations that extends, as a trace, across the geographies that the migrants themselves traverse. Cruz’s film and the artist Alejandro’s project both serve to illustrate the manner in which, even in their absence, the migrant never effaces the bonds that tie them to their community of origin and, as such, define them otherwise than the western sense of the individual as subject and, instead, situate them within a relational field based on mutual recognition and communal duty. I propose that, by highlighting how the 2501 statues that Alejandro creates mark not a concretion of the absence of an individual, but rather the loss of the ties that they maintained with the communal way of life, this film and this migratory sculptural installation signal that there is no true loss in absence unless, due to death or distance, their reciprocal participation in the community ceases. The specters behind these statues, then, only become statues when the migrant, literally or figuratively, from death or the force of the new, ceases to return. This presentation will be given in Spanish.