On October 19 CLACS co-hosted a conference on “Mesoamerican Biodiversity, Green Imperialism, and Indigenous Women’s Leadership in Defense of Territory.”
Marisa Belausteguigoitia, director of the Programa de Estudios de Genero (PUEG) at UNAM, opened the “Mesoamerican Biodiversity, Green Imperialism, and Indigenous Women’s Leadership in Defense of Territory” conference (yes, it’s a mouthful!) with the idea that an exchange of ideas needs to happen between the “plaza and the classroom” in order to effect real change. Belausteguigoitia said the primary motivation for the conference was a response to the violence occurring in Mexico, utilizing UNAM’s important position as a public university to enter into a transnational dialogue. Although the conference focused mainly on Latin America, the objective was to create conversations covering topics that are important on a global level. The panel discussions highlighted issues of feminicide, environmental devastation and mythologization of indigenous people.
As a woman of Mexican heritage, a CLACS student, and a former resident of southern Mexico (where many of the talks were focused), the topics covered by the panelists resonated with me both emotionally and academically. The ideas and issues discussed, however, are of universal relevance. Overarching themes of struggle and identity were revealed through stories of extreme violence being contested with new forms of resistance; demands for society and environment to be confronted together in creating buen vivir; and women, who are turning the table on modernity by defending traditions in nontraditional ways. The paradoxes are many, and although no unequivocal resolution has been proffered, the door to dialogue has been opened‑ and it is up to us to walk through.
This conference was a collaboration between CLACS, the Humanities Initiative at NYU, the Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS) at Columbia University, the NYU Dean for the Humanities, the NYU Native Studies Forum, the NYU Department of Anthropology, Metropolitan Studies at NYU, the NYU Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU, and the Research Center for Leadership in Action at NYU.
Posted by Marisa Cadena – M.A. Candidate, CLACS at NYU