- Bodies, Borders, and Resistance:Women Conjuring Geography through Experiences from the Other Side of the Wall1
This text that we present as Geobrujas-Comunidad de Geógrafas3 arose from the invitation that we received in 2019 to participate in the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers. As a result of that initiative, we began generating an internal dialogue to determine what we wanted to address and how to present it in a workshop form. Above all, however, we questioned the conditions and chances for physically participating in the encounter, which, as mostly Mexican women geographers living in Mexico, meant thinking about the idea and feasibility of crossing (or not) the border with the U.S. to be able to attend the event, whether due to migratory or economic reasons.
At the beginning of 2020, the uncertainty generated by the increasing number of Covid-19 infections added another layer to our debates, since we did not know whether or not the event would take place. Finally, when the pandemic was declared, our participation was postponed until 2021 and shifted to the virtual mode, which resolved our possible impediments to physically attending the event but did not lead us to abandon our previous reflections. Thus, for our broadcast in 2021, we decided to stick with the issue of borders, adding to it the context of the pandemic.
Building on our situated, critical, and collective knowledges, we have elaborated in this text on our participation in that event, which we organized through a combination of exposition, mini workshop, and brief questionnaire that attendees responded to voluntarily. With these, we sought to generate a space of exchange to reach a joint reflection, thus overcoming the physical and virtual distance.
In this way, each of our presentations started by problematizing the issue of borders in our respective "bio-geographies."4 Each of us responded to the following questions: [End Page 168] What borders have crossed you? What borders have you embodied or reproduced? What borders have you challenged?
As we introduced ourselves, we marked our bodies with colors, symbols, or keywords as a way of representing how these experiences of crossing form a part of our bodies and stay there as embodied experiences. With this action, we also sought to show ourselves in a self-critical and intimate way, to thus generate the necessary trust to later have an exchange and dialogue with participants.
As we cannot abstract ourselves from the context of violence against women in which we live, we decided to start with a pronouncement that would position us politically while also demonstrating our indignation through public denunciation. Precisely at that time we were shaken by an escalation of femicides. One of them happened in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, where the murder of Victoria Salazar of El Salvador revealed the abuse of police power, and another across the border to the North where Aisha Ximena Mireles Nava, a young Mexican woman, was murdered in Los Angeles.
We wrote this document based on that presentation. First, we introduce the topic through guiding questions. Second, we discuss the methodology and results of the mini workshop, then dedicate a section to a brief analysis of the questionnaire. Finally, we conclude with a few reflections.
why did we decide to talk about borders? where are we speaking from?
We are all women who live in Mexico but have had very different life experiences, giving rise to different positionalities. If this meeting had been in person, we would have had to cross several political-administrative borders to get there. Due to our diversity, it would have been easy for some of us, but others would not have been able to come. Among the borders we would have had to cross is one of the ten longest borders in the world, one of those along which a wall has been built to contain the migration organized as "legal" and "clandestine," one of the borders with the most surveillance and violence, where human beings of different nationalities and conditions die in the attempt to cross. Faced with this situation, we critically...