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The Poetics of Fieldwork: Geographies of Difference and Togetherness.


The Poetics of Fieldwork: Geographies of Difference and Togetherness.

Arroyo Avila, Victor Ivan (2023) The Poetics of Fieldwork: Geographies of Difference and Togetherness. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis examines various logics of extraction in the Indigenous P'urhépecha community in Cherán, in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It comprises field-based artistic research in the Cherán forest, investigating various articulations of colonial violence manifested in diverse forms of resource extraction, state-sponsored violence, appropriation of land, enforced disappearance, and unevenly distributed visual rights. The experiences of the Indigenous communities in Michoacán are rooted in longstanding histories of exclusion, disappearance, colonialism, and genocide.

In 2015, I initiated a long-term investigation in the P'urhépecha landscape, examining social relations and tensions following the 2011 P'urhépecha uprising in Cherán. In 2011, the people in Cherán locked down the town and took up arms, engaging against organized criminal cartels, whose drug-related violence and illegal logging had plagued the area for decades. In 2012, the P'urhépecha legally took political control of the town, expelling the police and other state institutions. An autonomous Indigenous government has been consolidated, without a mayor, police, or political parties. Cherán is the first autonomous Indigenous community with a new governance system built on P'urhépecha traditions to be recognized officially by the Mexican government.

The Indigenous autonomous government in Cherán stands as a successful case of political emancipation and environmental protection against extractivist practices. Through an extensive process of community-based research, I combine personal, political, and theoretical, in order to grapple with the complex relationship between culture, positionality, ethnicity, and class. This thesis builds upon three moving image artworks, investigating the impermanence and malleability of spatialities of memory, exception, erasure, and disappearance.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Arroyo Avila, Victor Ivan
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:9 June 2023
Thesis Supervisor(s):Clark, Timothy
ID Code:992988
Deposited On:17 Nov 2023 15:03
Last Modified:17 Nov 2023 15:03
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