Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, New York University

Art, Migration, and Human Rights: Summer 2015

July 27 – August 16, 2015
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México

Course Instructors: Diana Taylor
Marcial Godoy-Anativia
Performance Workshop Instructor: Jesusa Rodríguez
Other Instructors: Marcos Steuernagel
Moysés Zúñiga
Ruben Figueroa
Teaching Assistants: Olivia Gagnon
Luis Rincón-Alba
Pablo Domínguez


1. Course Description

The crisis of migration in the Americas has reached epic proportions. This course explores the violence (produced by dictatorships, neoliberalism, the traffic in drugs and humans) that has produced increased migration, and the violence produced by the migration itself. Taking place in Chiapas, Mexico, the course will be able to introduce participants to the various groups that try to intervene in the crisis: the Zapatistas, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, human rights activists, scholars, artists, and others who try to bring international attention to the situation and help mitigate the violence. In addition to interacting with local artists and activists, the course will examine current scholarship that explores the history, politics, and potential outcomes of the current crisis. Jesusa Rodríguez will lead an intensive one-week performance activist workshop as part of the course. The course will culminate in a collective project that brings together scholarship, art and activism.

This course requires fluency of English. Knowledge of Spanish is a plus. Students are encouraged to bring laptops and digital cameras to use for their projects

Participants are required to complete all assigned readings before class. We strongly suggest that participants do ALL of the reading before traveling to Chiapas. Assigned readings are available here:

During the course, participants will gain basic training in the various skills they will need to complete the final collaborative project–a digital project featuring the various topics we explore during the course (such as migration, human rights, forensics etc). Participants will be divided (according to skills) into 5 groups, each with a group leader, to develop their projects which will be publicly presented at the end of the course.

The theoretical part of the course will meet in the mornings and the workshops take place in the afternoon (except during week 2). Workshops include: digital publication, photography, interviewing, translating, and performance.

Participants are required to attend all scheduled sessions of the class and the workshops. Failure to do so, plus failure to behave in a responsible manner throughout the entire course, will result in participants being dropped from the course.

Tentative Schedule

(Please note that all course instructors reserve the right to change the following schedule. Participants will be advised in advance of any changes.)


Saturday 7/25


Sunday 7/26


7:00pm: Welcome Dinner @ Cocoliche Restaurant

Monday 7/27


Class 1: Overview—Chiapas and beyond


● John Womack, Jr., “Chapter 1: Chiapas, the Bishop of San Cristóbal, and the Zapatista Revolt,” in Rebellion in Chiapas: An Historical Reader

● Greg Grandin, Empire’s Workshop

Dancing with the Zapatistas (Digital Book)

● Dawn Paley, Drug War Capitalism, Chapters 1, 2, and 4.

● “Rethinking the Drug War in Central America and Mexico,”

● “The U.S. Re-militarization of Central America and Mexico,”

Recommended Readings:

● Rosario Castellanos, Balun Canan / Nine Guardians

● Dawn Paley, Drug War Capitalism, Chapters 5 and 6.

● Rossana Reguillo, “The Narco-Machine and the Work of Violence: Notes Toward its Decodification,”


Workshop: Online Platforms and Digital Resources (TOME, etc)

Led by: Marcos Steuernagel and Olivia Gagnon

Tuesday 7/28


Class 2: Migration


● Nicholas P. De Genova, “Spectacles of migrant ‘illegality’: the scene of exclusion, the obscene of inclusion

● Óscar Martínez, Los migrantes que no importan / The Beast: Riding The Rails And Dodging Narcos On The Migrant Trail

● Mary Louise Pratt, “Mobility and the Politics of Belonging: Indigenous Experiments in Creative Citizenship,”

● Jesusa Rodríguez, 500 Years of Resistance,

● Bang.lab Transborder Immigrant Tool,

Recommended Readings:

● Rocío Magaña, “Dead Bodies: The deadly display of in Mexican Border”

● Wendy Brown, “Chapter 3: State and Subjects,” and “Chapter 4: Desiring Walls,” in Walled States, Waning Sovereignty.


Workshop: Photography I

Led by: Moysés Zúñiga

Wednesday 7/29


Class 3: Rights and Vulnerabilities


● Ayten Gündogdu, “Introduction: Human Rights Across Borders” and “Chapter 3: Borders of Personhood,” in Rightlessness in the Age of Rights: Hannah Arendt and the Struggle of Contemporary Migrants

● Judith Butler, “Chapter 2: Violence, Mourning, Politics,” in Precarious Life

● Giorgio Agamben, “Introduction,” in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life.

● Jean Franco, “Disposable Life,” (video)

● Regina Galindo, Earth/Tierra, 2013 (will be screened in class)

Recommended Readings:

● Hannah Arendt, “Chapter 9: The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man,” from The Origins of Totalitarianism


Workshop: Photography II

Led by: Moysés Zúñiga

Thursday 7/30


Class 4: Seeing and Violence


● Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

● Diana Taylor, “Percepticide,” from Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’

● Fernando Brito, “Tus pasos se perdieron con el paisaje,”

● Jill Lane, “Lost in Place: Reflections on Tragedy and Photography with Fernando Brito’s Landscapes,”

● Ariella Azoulay, “Chapter 3: The Spectator is Called to Take Part,” in The Civil Contract of Photography


Workshop: Interviews and Translation

Led by: Diana Taylor and Marcial Godoy

Friday 7/31


Class 5: Defacement


● Emmanuel Levinas, from “Section III: Exteriority and the Face,” Totality and Infinity, read pp. 187-220

● Judith Butler, “Chapter 5: Precarious Life,” in Precarious Life

●Rossana Reguillo, “Escombros: la promesa fallida,” [FORTHCOMING IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

● Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, “Chapter 7: Year Zero, Faciality,” in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

● Michael Taussig, from “The Face is the Evidence That Makes Evidence Possible,” Defacement: Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative, read pp. 236-248

● Antonin Artaud, “Le Visage Humain…”


FOMMA visit and performance

Buscando nuevos caminos

Saturday 8/1


Class 6: Remains/Forensics


● Adam Rosenblatt, “Chapter 5: Caring for the Dead,” Digging for the Disappeared: Forensic Science After Atrocity

● Jason De León, “Undocumented Migration, Use Wear, and the Materiality of Habitual Suffering in the Sonoran Desert”

● Interview with Mercedes Doretti by Alexandra Délano, Pablo Domínguez, Ben Nienass [FORTHCOMING]

● Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics”

● Rebecca Scott Bray, “Teresa Margolles’s Crime Scene Aesthetics”

● Teresa Margolles, catalogs for Frontera and What Else Could We Talk About?

● Teresa Margolles, “What Else Could We Talk About?” (video)

● Mariana David, “Necropsy: Writing the History of the Collective SEMEFO,” and “Works” in SEMEFO 1990-1999: From the Morgue to the Museum.

Recommended Readings:

● Adam Rosenblatt, Digging for the Disappeared, chapter 2, “The Politics of Grief”


Visit: San Juan Chamula

Sunday 8/2




(more details forthcoming)

Monday, August 3 – Wednesday, August 5

Trip to Arriaga, Tapachula, Mexico-Guatemala Border, visit to migrant shelters, meetings with human rights/migrant organizations

Thursday, August 6 – Saturday, August 9

Trip to Tenosique, “Las 72” migrant hostel, Palenque migrant hostel, Palenque archaeological site.

*Transportation and lodging will be provided



Monday 8/10


Group work on chapter

3-6 Workshop with Jesusa Rodríguez

Tuesday 8/11


Group work on chapter

3-6 Workshop with Jesusa Rodríguez

Wednesday 8/12


Group work on chapter

3-6 Workshop with Jesusa Rodríguez

Thursday 8/13


Group work on chapter

3-6 Workshop with Jesusa Rodriguez

Friday 8/14


Group work on chapter

4-6 Performance with Jesusa Rodríguez, Zocalo

Saturday 8/15

6:30 pm Public Presentation of chapters

Performance: Jesusa Rodríguez and Liliana Felipe,

8 pm at FOMMA

Farewell celebration and party (location TBA)

Sunday 8/16




2. “Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the U.S. Immigrant Detention System,”

3. NSA Resources on Migration:









4. Immigrant Rights Program:

5. Amy Gottlieb, “Immigration policy with a human face,”

6. Detention Watch Network: