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From Stateless to Citizen: Indigenous Guatemalan Refugees in Mexico

Friday, November 9, 2018 at 12:00pm

Rockefeller Hall (LSP conference room), 429

Photographer Manuel Gil  and Dr. Óscar Gil-García will be on campus to give a presentation on the exhibit, “From Stateless to Citizen: Indigenous Guatemalan Refugees in Mexico”. 

The exhibit are portraits of indigenous Mayans who for more than thirty years remained stateless in Chiapas, Mexico. Portraits of 26 stateless subjects and another of their families help show the paradox of having familial ties – Mexican born citizen nationals – and ongoing denial of legal status in their host society.

Exhibit  will be in place throughout the 2018 - 19 academic year in Latina/o Studies located on the 4th Floor of Rockefeller Hall.

• Óscar F. Gil-García is Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development at Binghamton University, State University of New York. His research lies at the intersection of forced migration, humanitarianism, gender, and development. With over ten years of experience in conducting ethnographic research with indigenous Mayan refugees from Guatemala, his work examines their incorporation in Mexico’s southernmost border state of Chiapas and the United States. Currently, Gil-García studies the legal barriers to naturalization and citizenship of this population following their return or deportation from the United States to Mexico. Findings from this study will be used to shape policies that enable the legalization of stateless migrants who fled the Guatemalan military conflict (1954-1996) and now reside in Mexico. Additionally, he is also engaged in a new research project that will examine the health and social service needs of unaccompanied migrant youth who arrive in the U.S.

Manuel Gil is a graduate (BFA) of San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Since 2004, he's worked on a documentary photography project titled “Guatemalan Forced Migration” in Chiapas, Mexico. I document the lives of indigenous Mayans who fled Guatemala during a violent military conflict and settled in La Gloria – the largest refugee camp in Mexico.

Most recently, he took portraits of indigenous Mayans who for more than thirty years remained stateless in Chiapas, Mexico. Portraits of 26 stateless subjects and another of their families help show the paradox of having familial ties – Mexican born citizen nationals – and ongoing denial of legal status in their host society.

Portraits from this project, titled: “From Stateless to Citizen: Indigenous Guatemalan Refugees in Mexico”, were selected from a competitive pool of artists across the U.S. for a curated CENTER exhibition titled “Art & Oppression”, at the Marion Center for Photographic Arts at Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2017. My portraits have also been published in peer-reviewed academic and the Latin American and U.S. press that include: Plaza Pública, América sin Muros, Univision, The Conversation, and Latino USA.

Collectively, the power of my portraits is that they illustrate the profound strength and resilience of stateless subjects’ to support their families and communities, while simultaneously continuing their struggle to gain legal status and be recognized as members of their host nation states.

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