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Accepted Paper:

"Making ourselves visible" : self-ethnography as a tool for territorial defence against open-pit mining in the Northern Sierra de Puebla, Mexico.  


Pierre Beaucage (Université de Montréal)
Alejandro Marreros Lobato (CESDER)
Judith Chaffee (CESDER)

Paper short abstract:

In Ixtacamaxtitlán, Mexico, a Canadian mining company denied the presence of an Indigenous people in order to bypass Mexican legislation. Through engaged ethnography, we demonstrated the presence of strong Indigenous identity and the persistence of Nahua (Mexicanero) culture and social organization.

Paper long abstract:

The purpose of this paper is to present and analyze an experience in engaged, participant ethnography, whose aim was to assert indigenous presence in a Mexican highland municipio, Ixtacamaxtitlán, as part of a ten-year long struggle against an open-pit mining project promoted by a Canadian concern, Almaden Minerals. In order to bypass Mexican legislation, which requires previous, free and informed consultation for any large scale project taking place on indigenous lands, the company had a fake anthropological enquiry made, which concluded that there were no indigenous people in Ixtacamaxtitlán (CMI Consulting 2018). Members of the Unión de ejidos y comunidades Atcolhua, people from CESDER and Pierre Beaucage decided to realize a real ethnographic survey in Ixtacamaxtitlán, with the participation of students from CESDER, most of whom are indigenous or mestizos. The results demonstrate the presence of a strong indigenous identity and the persistence of nahuat (‘mexicanero’) culture and social organization in many communities, as had been declared in the 2015 request of injunction (Beaucage and Marreros Lobato 2020). It is on the basis of these indigenous identity and culture that a judge finally suspended the company’s mining license (Vázquez Rebollo 2019).

Panel P043a
Territories of Life: Wellsprings of Biocultural Relationship and Resurgence