Building Indigenous Circuits of Struggle: Community Media in Oaxaca

Friday, May 1, 12:30-2 pm
Howard Ferguson Dining Hall, 75 St. George St.
This event is free and open to the public

Mexico has recently been the focus of international outrage over the forced disappearance and likely extra-judicial murder of over 40 rural teaching college students who were protesting the implementation of neoliberal labor policies in education. This event has helped to unmask a regime of terror in Mexico that uses old-school repression along with high-tech surveillance to systematically eliminate dissent. As part of the wholesale implementation of neoliberal policies and structural reforms beginning in the 1980’s and reaching new levels of intensity in the past 10 years, the Mexican state is aiding and abetting the territorialization of capital, with over 50 percent of the country sold off to mining companies for exploration and extraction.

But where there is oppression there is resistance, and southern Mexico has been the birthplace of two important liberation movements that have and continue to use media, new and old, to advance the struggle against neoliberal capitalism. The most widely known of these is the EZLN in Chiapas, whose use of the nascent Internet and digital media has been an example and  inspiration for many throughout the world. The second is the popular uprising or “Commune of Oaxaca” in 2006, during which community and independent media flourished in both the city and rural areas of Oaxaca state. The legacy of 2006 is evidenced by the unparalleled presence of over 60 community radios, 16 community cellular networks and a handful of independent wireless ISPs to provide internet access.

In light of these historical and geographic contexts, this talk will focus on how indigenous communities in Oaxaca are building and rethinking community media in terms of both infrastructure and content in order to preserve indigenous languages, promote and protect human, cultural and socioeconomic rights, and organize resistance to capital’s exploitation and enclosure of life, land and livelihood.

LorLoretoBravoeto Bravo is a feminist hacker and anthropologist who has accompanied myriad independent and community media initiatives in the United States and Latin America. She currently coordinates Palabra Radio, a collective based in Oaxaca, Mexico that uses community FM radio and technological appropriation as tools of struggle, with a focus on women’s and indigenous peoples’ rights and liberation.

PeterBloomPeter Bloom is a community digital defense and autonomy advocate and scholar who lives in Oaxaca, Mexico. Peter is the general coordinator and founder of Rhizomatica, a collective that works to increase access to telecommunications through the use of new technologies and spectrum access advocacy. Rhizomatica is best known for starting the first community-based cellular networks in the world.

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