Reconstructing historical geographies of counter-revolution in Mexico: the methodological dilemmas of working with the archives of the Dirección Federal de Seguridad

Authors: Patricia Martin*, Université De Montréal
Topics: Political Geography, Latin America, Historical Geography
Keywords: archives, Mexico, historical geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Virginia B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As part of the official process of “democratic transition” the Mexican government opened the archives of the Direccion Federal de Seguridad (DFS) in 2002. Created shortly after World War II, the mandate of this agency was to protect the country from internal and external threats of political “subversion.” In one of the first analyses of the archives, Aguayo Quezada describes the millions of index cards that the agency created as a, “series of spider webs that were being laid down on the territory and the history of the second half of the 20th Century...” The archives help to outline, in other words, the rapid development of new spatial technologies of state power in Mexico. Elucidating the geographies of power represented through the archives is not always obvious, nonetheless. On the one hand, the documents are organized chronologically and into fixed spatial units; on the other hand, the bulk of academic research involving the archives deploys an historical framework, privileging, in turn, a temporal narrative.

Drawing on archival material from the DFS that documents a significant university movement that emerged in Oaxaca in the mid-1970s, this paper will explore methodological strategies and dilemmas in using archival material to develop an explicitly historical geography of student mobilization and state repression in Mexico. Specific examples will document a politics of spatial containment, spatial displacements and transgressions, and the translocal simultaneity of political action which aid, in turn, to rework dominant narratives of political power and resistance.

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