restricted access Chapter 2. Geographies, Diasporas, and Communities Revisited
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39 Chapter2 Geographies,Diasporas,and CommunitiesRevisited ElíasBarónLevínRojo TranslatedbyByrtWammackWeberandFreyaSchiwy Look, over there, as if you’re looking at the back, behind the channel that the river made before they ran it through the culvert, that’s where the other side begins. Are you sure? The land continues, the rains and sun still affect it just the same. If I say “plain” it sounds the same as “plane,” but yes, over there it begins. And your voice, how far does it reach? The Horizon of the Text The ways in which audiovisual expression and community media developed in Mexico during the last two decades of the twentieth century set the foundation for the emergence of new forms of communicative expression with classes of social actors, such as indigenous peoples, who had not been involved previously . Inspired in part by the potential that these media experiences had to foster the constitution of new communities and new personal and collective identities , Mexico began accumulating media experiences with a part of society that is perhaps even more marginalized than others—that is, intellectually disabled people—taking the community media model as a point of reference. This is an action model that, despite its many problems, has allowed the mediascape to be seen as an enabling environment for the emergence of voices and discourses that traditionally have been silenced, and it has provided tactics and strategies 40 ELÍAS BARÓN LEVÍN ROJO for navigating the mediascape for the purpose of making different communities visible—in this case, the community of people with disabilities. La Pirinola A.C. is a nonprofit organization that promotes the presence in society of people with disabilities. It stimulates creativity and self-expression through cultural, recreational, and developmental activities. This chapter addresses La Pirinola’s media program and its experiences. In addition to working in audiovisual media, this program hosts La Pirinola gira en la radio (La Pirinola spins on the radio), which has been produced by people with intellectual disabilities since 2005 and which is currently simulcast in Mexico City and other cities in Mexico. These accumulated experiences have shown that working with radio and audiovisual media has allowed people with intellectual disabilities to imagine a territory that is structured differently, and this in turn has enabled them to create a conversation that is at once ephemeral and recursive, thus changing their—and their Other’s (our)—surroundings. What they have placed in diaspora, then, are their own ways of being within the space of social action, a space that rightly belongs to them but from which they have been excluded. To place in diaspora thus becomes a means of recuperating what belongs to them. Community becomes a form of action, which, by reterritorializing its environment, makes manifest its own geography. This chapter thus approaches audiovisual communication as a phenomenon that enables the convergence of functionally divergent voices. This convergence is derived from the functionally convergent nature of audiovisual language, which itself is structurally tangential to the support medium that acts as a hinge or connector of distant realities. This chapter also takes a soft and flexible approach to the conceptualization of geography, community, and diaspora. Geography is understood as an ensemble of imagined territories that become manifest in spaces of action where one seeks to fit in, territories that may exist only as projections. Community is thus understood as a set of interactions among an unstable ensemble of social actors who cohere around situated practices and who appropriate the resources that conversation opens up. Diaspora in turn is conceptualized as a way of inserting oneself into the flows of exchange from one’s own perspective, thus mobilizing the subjective gaze and contaminating those imagined territories. By reflecting on the consequences that community and collective media practices have had for particular subjects, such as indigenous peoples and people with disabilities, it becomes possible to rethink the qualities of audiovisual expression. We can conceive of it as an instrument that is constitutive of particular subjectivities and that fosters the formation of nodes or points of intersection. In this sense La Pirinola’s experiences can function as a mirror through which our lens may be adjusted so as to make visible other experiences of community and collective participation, and thus contribute to 41 GEOGRAPHIES, DIASPORAS, AND COMMUNITIES REVISITED untangling long-standing questions about the characteristics of communal audiovisual practice. The Drawing of the Earth A drawing of the earth reveals an apparent continuous uniformity. Nothing, not the ocean...