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Sergio Beltrán-García

Militant Memories




04/27/2023 — 05/11/2023

Cartographies and Memorials to Defenders of the Lands. Mexican Architect, activist and researcher Sergio Beltrán-García proposes a space for collective reflection and imagination around the activation of earthly-memory.

Through critical reflection, the laboratory intends to create dispersed cartographies and interventions around public spaces. We will attempt to create a militant memorial exercise to commemorate the people who defend the lands and waters of Latin America.

Sergio Beltrán-García: Dispersed Memorial. Boston, USA (2022). Courtesy: Sergio Beltrán-García.

"Memory without truth is a lie. Memory without justice is impunity. Memory without reparation is damage, and without guarantees of non-repetition is oblivion."

Sergio Beltrán-García

According to a Global Witness report, more than 75% of land and water defenders killed in 2021 were people defending forests, rivers, jungles, and deserts in Latin America. Capitalist extractivism shows no signs of slowing down, and one of the main fronts of the struggle against the destruction of natural environments—their biodiversity, and the ways of life of its native people—is gathering up in the Americas. Acknowledging this fact, we will open an opportunity to detonate political and resistance imaginaries, where dwellers of Latin America can seek collective and transnational ways of accompanying those who protect the lands and so become vulnerable to disappearance and murder. Faced with the difficulty of materially preventing so much death, the sphere of commemoration and memory becomes a key space of struggle. However, memory has also become a tool for governments—the same governments that fail to protect defenders—to deprive populations of the emancipatory potential of their memory. It is essential to use memory in a critical way, so that its symbolism can give support to the material processes that could provide truth, justice, reparation, and prevent the repetition of the murder of land and water defenders and their communities.

How can we build a shared understanding that explains why Latin American lands are the deadliest to defend against extractivist megaprojects? From a virtual laboratory, what forms of solidarity and commemoration can we weave to cross borders and hold collective mourning?

In this laboratory we will open a space to reflect and imagine together how we can accompany these struggles through memory. We will adopt a hybrid format of seminar and memorial laboratory, where we will seek to build a common narrative among participants who are interested in approaching the struggles for the defense of the land in the respective countries and regions they inhabit. We will share reflections of critical readings on memory, on the relationships between human and non-human entities, and we will work with developments from the long-term project of Sergio Beltrán-García, the Disperse Memorial, as a scaffolding through which we can make cartographies and commemorations on the destruction of natural environments and the murder of those who protect them. The expected result is that, together, we assemble a joint cartography and memorial to be dispersed in the places where participants live, reclaiming the dignity of the defence of land.

Session 1: Land, Water and Bodies. Collective reflections on the defense of territories against extractivism.
Session 2: Memory. Collective reflections on the use of memory as a tool for justice.
Session 3: Mnemonic cartography. Collective creation of a map of fallen defenders and the struggles of their communities.
Session 4: Dispersed memorial. Transnational memory actions.
Session 5: The memory of our lands. Collective reflection on our memorial.