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Primary Materials ● Retrato de la burguesía (Portrait of the Bourgeoisie) by David Alfaro Siqueiros (mural, 1939–40) ● Nada, nadie: Las voces del temblor (Nothing, Nobody: The Voices of the Mexico City Earthquake) by Elena Poniatowska (collective chronicle, 1988) ● La toma de los medios en Oaxaca (The Taking of the Media in Oaxaca),produced by Jen Lawhorne and Arnaldo Peña (documentary video, 2007) ● #YoSoy132 (#IAm132) (social media, 2012) T he images were striking: dozens of photographers gathered in pub­ lic places, holding up their cameras in one hand and white flowers in the other, while wearing simple black-and-white paper masks bear­ ing the face of their murdered colleague, thirty-one-year-old photojournalist Rubén Espinosa. On July 31, 2015, Espinosa was tortured and killed along with four women—among them, #YoSoy132 activist Nadia Vera—in an apartment in the Narvarte neighborhood of Mexico City.1 He had recently fled Vera­ cruz, where he and Vera had both worked for several years, amid increasing threats directed at them and a general climate of violence toward and par­ ticular repression of journalists.2 Immediately, the Internet was flooded with demands of #JusticiaParaLxs5 (Justice for the 5)3 as well as the increasingly, 14 Media Media from Above/Media from Below: An Alternative Topography of the Mexican Mediascape Magalí Rabasa 274 Magalí Rabasa and disturbingly, common call for greater protection for journalists. The pro­ tests online and in the streets of Mexico over the weeks that followed were at once unique and eerily familiar in a country that ranks among the most dan­ gerous places for journalists. While much could be said about the significance and broader context of this tragedy, it is clear that the murder of Lxs5—and the popular responses that followed—illustrate the way that in Mexico today the media is a field of extreme antagonisms and, increasingly, of violence. If we follow the conflicts over control of the media back through the his­ tory of Mexico, where do they lead us? As far back as the early sixteenth century we can see evidence of the ways that the practices of a nascent media, in what would later be named Mexico, were deeply affected by the economic interests propelling an inherently capitalist colonial enterprise.4 The invasion and subse­ quent “conquest”led by Hernán Cortés in 1519 was the subject of many volumes of chronicles penned by both the invaders and the indigenous inhabitants,which represent the earliest mediatic—which is to say, printed and published—appear­ ances of the encounter that would result in the formation of the nation now called Mexico.5 As Ángel Rama argues in his conceptualization of the “lettered city,” the Spanish Crown attempted to maintain its discursive control through regulation of reading and writing and the cultivation of a class of letrados (men of letters) who would serve the colonial interests. Parallel to this process was a growing and evolving tension between textual and nontextual modes of repre­ sentation (29). While official control over public access to information became less overt, and the powers shifted after independence, in the late nineteenth cen­ tury Porfirian Mexico stood out among its Latin American neighbors for the considerably lesser degree of freedom that journalists enjoyed there (88). The Mexican Revolution of 1910 provoked a transformation of the role of media in Mexico for several reasons. First, because representation was a significant issue being fought for, popular groups associated with the revolutionary armies devel­ oped mediatic tools to accompany the armed struggle. Second, as Zuzana Pick shows in her 2010 study of media in the Revolution,the timing was opportune,as the popularization of photography and the advent of cinema provided new tools with which to document the Revolution and disseminate information. In the decades that followed the Revolution, as its radical ideals became in­ creasingly diluted and the Revolution itself was paradoxically institutionalized in the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party), or PRI, the erosion of democratic principles was accompanied by a progressive centralization and concentration of the media. With the neoliberal reforms of Media 275 the late twentieth century, by the beginning of the twenty-first century it was widely accepted that,like other aspects of social and political life,“los medios de comunicación y su contenido han sido devorados por las leyes del mercado, por el negocio y el afán de lucro” (the media and its content have been devoured by the laws of the market...


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