My name is Lorna Zamora and I come from Mexico City. To say that my country is going through a difficult moment now would be an understatement. We have incredibly well-trained public administrators with great expertise to market us as this folkloric and colorful tourism and investment paradise, an image that has declined over the last 10 years. Nevertheless, conflicts involving displacement, dispossession, political dissapearances, impunity, deep inequality and heavy structural violence towards certain groups, in particular (rural-indigenous-poor-name your intersectionality here), has been even normalized long before the drug dealing cartels made the headlines.
As the course moves onwards I will write more about the situation in my country and how it relates to the topics we address. For now, I will only say that most people are unhappy with the political climate, members of our press are being targeted and assasinated, that there is not a lot of credibility on the political system, postcolonialism can be readily observed and that people all over the country are organizing as best as they can to resist the violences they are subject to everyday. Sometimes this ways of organizing will be disregarded as violent and unnecessary, sometimes they will be reactive and not very strategic, sometimes they will be harrassed and sabotaged. What can people do upon having this feeling of injustice for tenths, of hundreds of years?
In this context, I have found the best space for me to act as a student and young professional is through developing spaces to have important conversations. I consider myself to be an intercultural communicator, a peace educator, a human rights defender, a movement artist, and social healer. I have travelled vastly intending to sustain meaningful conversations with a wide variety of individuals and groups throughout different social, political, cultural and economical contexts, stretching as much as possible my understanding about how we experience, make a sense of and respond to the effects the globalised systems we live in have on our lifes.
My work is about sustaining dialogues between this co-existing realities. One tool I use for this is arts, particularly dancing. Movement becomes a powerful space to think, feel and work on one’s own body, our emotions, beliefs about ourselves, our layers of identity, what that means in one’s society, how we interact with others and how we exist in the world and go about that power. This teaching journey started out 5 years ago in Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, using dance technique as an excuse to have this conversations with women and being an Assistant Professor and researcher in the fields of Peace Education and Conflict Resolution in UNAM, as well. Ever since, I have worked with several indigenous communities and social justice movements and activist groups in rural and urban Mexico, as well as with study abroad and exchange students from all continents.
Learning about Peace Studies perspectives has really changed the way I understand violence, activism and the world in general. I used to come from a place of anger and confusion that was not becoming very sustainable for my physical, emotional and mental health, and which was not very effective. I see a lot of my peers dealing with this same issues. I am working very hard to identify spaces of violence in myself and understanding how my thoughts and actions can aid reproduce one culture. It has been very liberating to realize I have a choice on this and I have the responsibility to decide what kind of activism I build around me.
For the last 3 years I have collaborated with a wonderful group at UNAM, where we get to ask ourselves this questions, we get to have experiments in the peace education field, especifically after designing and facilitating workshops along with a wonderful Professor who know just how to ask the correct questions and who represents an example of what it looks like to walk the talk. I am being sent as a representative of this group to this course, so I am a link with Equipo de Paz y no Violencia Filos (Team for Peace and Non-Violence, Faculty of Philosophy and Litterature, UNAM).
I come to this course with the very genuine interest of learning from your work and your experience, to develop a network, to get better understanding how the path of peacebuilding has been like to you in your communities in order to nurture each other’s work 🙂 Some of the questions I hope to think more about during the following weeks are: What does peace mean in your context, both in everyday life and as a political discourse? What effects have different notions and projects of peace brought upon your communities? What would social justice look like there for different groups? How can we make this work in a world of globalised and neoliberal economies, where profit and financial development seem to come before and above the rest? What roles can we play from our places of privilege to bring this about in a respectful way?
Being here means a lot to me. I am very much looking forward to meeting you soon 🙂