Greenleaf Scholar to Present on Visualizing Collectivity in Oaxaca

September 16, 2016

Greenleaf Scholar to Present on Visualizing Collectivity in Oaxaca

The LAII announces a presentation with Lorraine Affourtit, a Richard E. Greenleaf Visiting Library Scholar and Ph.D. Candidate in the Visual Studies program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Affourtit will discuss her current research, Resistance is Fertile: Graphic Art, Collective Identity, and Public Space in the Oaxaca Commune, on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the UNM Zimmerman Library, Herzstein Room. For reference, see the event flyer.

Affourtit's presentation will look at the how elements of the layered visual environment manifested in the protests of the summer of 2006 in Oaxaca, Mexico - known as The Oaxaca Commune.

Visions of an inclusive, participatory, and nonhierarchical model of democracy based on indigenous governance practices proliferated in graphic art projects that were activated in the public arenas. The rich visual backdrop of the Oaxaca Commune made it clear that the people were not only protesting the injustices of the current political system, but were also actively envisioning the kind of participatory politics that they were demanding.

Local visual artists in collectives such as the Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca (ASARO), Arte Jaguar, and Lapiztola, drew on a century-long tradition of revolutionary graphic art in Mexico to radically alter the visual landscape of Oaxaca and offer a mass audience the ability to imagine a new democratic future. I argue that these graphic art interventions re-imagined public space as a forum for collective action in popular assemblies and helped to consolidate and sustain these assemblies both within the context of the uprising and in the years following. Graphic art galvanized different sectors of society to support the movement by providing accessible examples of assembly culture and ideology at work. It drew from and revised traditions that allowed for both points of identification and new models of resistance and it consolidated a new collective political subjectivity around the larger aims of participatory democracy. Further, graphic art projects helped to secure the long-term success of popular assemblies in the civic lives of local and transnational communities by forging social bonds among community members and creating cultural artifacts and traditions that endured long after the barricades came down.

Affourtit's research and writing focuses on contemporary visual culture of the Americas, critical theory, and visual semiotics. She is currently working on her dissertation project, The Art of Assembly: Visualizing Collectivity in Oaxaca's Popular Uprising, which considers how visual culture has been instrumental in a popular uprising and social movement taking place in Oaxaca, Mexico during the last decade.

The Greenleaf Visiting Library Scholar program is funded by a generous gift to the Latin American and Iberian Institute from Dr. Richard E. Greenleaf. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit events page.