Research

I am currently revising the manuscript for my first book. What Remains: Life among Mexico’s Revolutionary Ruins is a historical ethnography that examines the afterlife of the Mexican Revolution in the lowlands of northern Veracruz. Unlike classic and recent work on the Revolution’s collective memory, which focuses on the construction of “official” narratives, symbols, and cultural discourses, my book redirects critical focus to the material culture (documents, infrastructures, archaeological monuments, and photographs), which the implementation of the Revolution’s exemplary programs of social and economic reform (land redistribution, oil nationalization, archaeological reconstruction, and indigenous development), left behind. By utilizing a regional, long dureé, and object-oriented approach, my book seeks to render visible how the Revolution persists among those who live amid its residues even as the hegemony of the revolutionary state has faded.

In addition to working on my first book, I have launched research on my second project. Material Witnesses: The Forensic Archiving of Bones and the Animation of the Dead in Contemporary Mexico is an ethnographic investigation into the Mexican state’s handling of political violence through the workings of the AMPM—a standardized forensic database developed to register, store, and transmit information about missing and dead bodies. Drawing on insights from Science and Technology Studies as well as Memory Studies, this project will examine how through forensic procedures, bureaucratic practices, and digital technologies, human remains are being reconstituted as both persons and things, racialized subjects and objects, meanings and matter.

 

Image Credit: Detail, Pirámide de los Nichos, 1924, Archivo Técnico del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City, vol. I, 1924-1935, Tomo CXXV, Tajín, Estado de Veracruz.