In words and photographs, they described what it means to them to live in Zegache, what is good about the place, what is not so good and what they miss when they are away. The workshop was organized and led by Karin Becker, Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Stockholm University, as part of a media research project called “Changing Places”. For these sessions she worked with Patricia Tovar, an anthropologist and art curator, who also served as translator. The six adults who participated were Verónica Aquino Ambrocio, José Louis Gutiérrez Mendoza, Angeles Leon Diaz, Maria Dolores Lopez Ramirez (Dolores), José Louis Venegas Chompa and Juana Reyes Mendoza. The five young participants were Laura Jessica Chompa Aquino, Karen Nayely Chompa Aquino, Edith Araceli Gutierrez Mendoza, Rigoberto Mendoza Díaz, and José Clemente Reyes Morales. The workshops were funded through a grant from the Swedish Research Council with additional organizational support provided by the Talleres Communitarios, where the workshops met.
Each group began by sketching a map of the town, drawing in places that were important to include in their stories. After a brief introduction in how to use the digital cameras, they went out together to take pictures of the town. They then selected and sequenced five of their photographs as a visual narrative, and recorded their stories as the group looked at their pictures. They then took the cameras home to take pictures that would tell a more personal story about their own lives. The next day they showed these photographs and recorded these stories as the other members of the group listened. Each person received a disc with all their photographs and both their stories, and Patricia translated the stories into English.
What came through in the adults’ stories of the town was the centrality of the church, the importance of religious sites and rich agricultural traditions, but also the threats to these from pollution and inadequate waste disposal. Personal stories touch on themes of family life, the responsibility of maintaining family ties, and the strains placed on these ties by migration, both within Mexico and to the US. Many also mentioned the handicrafts and art projects they pursued, in their work and in their free time.
The young people’s stories focused on how they would describe Zegache to a person their own age who had never been there. They included photographs of the park, the new basketball court, and local video and candy shops. In their personal stories, the young people often focused on family members, and included pictures of themselves engaged in activities they enjoyed.
A few people in each group had included old photographs from the town, of themselves and of their families within their stories. One woman, Dolores, brought her collection of old photographs of important landmarks and local residents, which led to a broader discussion of histories of the town, its traditions and its residents, as well as how things in Zegache had changed.
As the workshop came to an end, the groups talked about how seeing these photographs and making their own images affected their perspectives on the town and their own lives. They discussed the value of these visual narratives, what they could mean for the community and how they might use them in the future, for example, by making a web-based archive about Zegache. Karin explained how she would use the results in her research, to look more closely at the different ‘ways of seeing’ reflected in their stories, and to develop the method as a way to exchange life experiences across cultures, including the experience of migration and the ongoing importance of the place one is from.
I am 40 years old. I was born in Santa Ana Zegache, and have lived here since then. My children and I live here and my husband is in San Francisco California. I have two children: my son is 20 and is called Angel Omar Martinez Leon, my daughter is 19 and her name is Elizabeth Guadalupe Martinez Leon. My husband's name is Jaime Gaspar Martinez. I do a a little of everything, housework and sell different brands of perfumes. I work in the fields, growing corn and alfalfa that I sell. I also grow corn for our household, for the family.
I am 27 years old. I have been working at Talleres Comunitarios for two years now. I left an education in electronic engineering because of lack of resources, now that I have the opportunity to work here. I am learning wood carving and other crafts.
I was born here, in Santa Ana Zegache. In my childhood my family and I moved a lot because my dad was in the military and we were constantly changing places and came here only once a season. But 10 years ago we settled down here permanently in Santa Ana Zegache.
Right now I live with my two sisters. The younger one is 13 years old and the other one is 24 years old, and she has a one-year-old baby. We are helping her raise him. She sells chicken in the market here in the community.
My younger sister is in middle school. Her name is Araceli Edith and the older sister is called Rosa. My parents are divorced and they are not with us right now; they live elsewhere.
I am from the city of Queretaro. I was born and grew up there until I got married 20 years ago with a person from here. I work here at home, and in Querétaro I work for a company. I am trained in quality control, that's why I work there and not here, because in Oaxaca there is no job for me, that's why I work at home.
I have been married for 20 years, but I have spent 10 of those years elsewhere. I have lived in Ixtepec City and Querétaro, but six years ago I returned to Santa Ana Zegache.
I have two children. One is 17 and the other is 13, and they are both in school. When we are here we work in the field with my husband. We also have animals. We raise sheep and sell them. Here I work at different things, I mend clothes, sew napkins, pretty much anything. These are my stories about Zegache and about me (click the images below).
I am 31 years old; I was born in Santa Ana Zegache and have not had the opportunity to go to different places. We are four: two daughters and my husband and me. A girl is 15, the other is 9.
I am dedicated to home, I am a housewife but I help my husband with the expenses by selling cakes and toast in a school, and my husband works here in Talleres Comunitarios. On Saturdays and Sundays we have time to go to the field and plant corn, beans and a little of vegetables, we do what we can because we only have two days per week. I use my free time to make shawls, embroider with ribbons and other things.
I am 27 years old. I was born in Veracruz, and I have been living here in Santa Ana for 20 years, my parents are from Zegache. We all lived in Michoacan for two years, then three years in Mexico City and from there we came back to Zegache. Later I went to Oregon and I was there eight years. Now I'm back working in Talleres Comunitarios to learn restoration and different things related to that. We are three brothers, plus my mom and dad. My brother who is 21 years old is in Oregon now. My 16-year-old brother, he is studying now. My parents work in agriculture and livestock, and I help whenever I can in the field.
I am 28 years old.
I live at home and help my mom with the housework. We are four, my father, my mother, my son and me. My brothers are out working; one of my brothers is in Mexico City and the other one is in Mazatlan. My son is 5 years old, his name is Cristian Said, my mom is Florencia and my dad is Matías. My mom works in the field and my dad too. I help them with that work. Well, I was in Guadalajara for six years and also one year I was in Mexico City. I have worked here in Talleres Comunitarios and also learned something about restoration.
I enjoy working with restoration. I am a single mother.
My name is Laura Jessica Chompa Aquino and I´m 15 years old.
My name is Karen Nayhelli Chompa Aquino. I´m in fourth grade of the elementary school Benito Juárez
My name is Araceli Edith Gutierrez Mendoza, I´m in second grade of telesecundaria, I’m 12 years old. These are my stories.