For those who want to delve deeply into specific topics on Mexican society, politics, environment and culture, we can plan an alternative sort of seminar - according to one dictionary, "a short intensive course of study, or conference of specialists". This means facilitating your encounter with people and civil society organizations actively involved in your issue of interest, including visits and in-depth talks or conversations with people or organizations active in those issues. We suggest no more than 3 visits in a day, with a wrap-up discussion session at the end of the day. Each organization or person that receives you will also receive a donation to support their work.
It may have already occurred to you that the line between education and culture is rather arbitrary ... this means that many of the topics included here can easily be included in a Cultural Journey.
PLEASE NOTE that appointments with speakers or organizations require at least one week's notice.
For starters, we offer 8 broad issue areas, with 4 to 10 topics under each. The issue areas are:
- Art as a reflection of society
- Public Education
- Urbanization and social power
- Natural Resources & Mega-City Logistics
- Sexual and Reproductive Health
- Economy and the Power Structure
- The Catholic Church and Mexico
- Civil Initiatives for Social Justice
Each bullet point represents a topic for a 1.5 hour visit and in-depth conversation with someone active in the field. If a point is of particular interest to you, it can easily be expanded to include more talks or visits. If your topic of interest is not included here, let us know and we will try to accommodate you. Please recall that the availability of a particular speaker cannot be guaranteed; once we know your dates and interests, we can see who is available.
Art as a reflection of society
- 20th Century Muralism in Mexico - Rivera, Tamayo, Siquieros and other great Mexican muralists, and their vision of Mexico's past, present and future. Can include up to 2 days of guided walking trips to the public murals in central Mexico City.
- Street Art Today - Muralism and Graffiti, talk and/or guided visits to current graffiti art sites and murals. Tepito Arte Acá, NezaArteNel.
- Musicians as participants in social change - Son Como Son, Salario Mínimo
- Mightier than the Sword - underground magazines, La Pirámide, the written word and beyond
- To be fully human: Art and the ability to use our hands - Luis Arévalo, shoemaking as a form of liberation, Martes de Arte en Tepito.
- Independent Cultural Centers: Efforts to create spaces of freedom and expression - RECIO: Foro Alicia, La Pirámide, Circo Volador, Cultural Roots
- Art and Social Change: Conversations with philosopher-activist-artists regarding the role of art in facilitating internal reflection, and social movement.
- Mexican public policy regarding child education, changes, social context, current challenges, the Mexican experience within the Latin American overall context (Centro de Estudios Educativos).
- Early education in urban low-income communities: the creation of an urban preschool popular education methodology and its implementation (CEE, Nezahualpilli, Madres Educadoras).
- Porros: state-permitted violence to control high schools populations
- Public universities in Mexico: the contradiction between being an autonomous space (with a politically active and critical student body), and being a tool of state power.
Urbanization as a reflection of social power
- Government urbanization policies, on paper and in reality, and their effects.
- "Invasions" and other urban housing movements, as result of needs (massive increase in Mexico City population, post-1985 earthquake movements) but also as a manipulative organization tool for political parties.
- Who defines what the city looks like? Post-earthquake efforts to salvage community: Tepito, Col. Guerrero.
- Autoconstruction: historical reality, but also its role in urban social movements
- Current state of thought in civil society/non-government organizations
Natural resources and Mega-city logistics
- Tenochtitlán: the Pre-hispanic mega-city and patterns of waste, spatial and water use. Historical use of water and methods of waste, through the Colony, Independence, up to 1950.
- Water - Current state of Mexico City: where it comes from, how we use it, almost 100% of waste water is sent to rivers without any prior treatment … and implications thereof.
- Solid waste disposal - Current state, methods of disposal, implications thereof.
- The control of spaces and strategic natural resources - privatization as a worldwide phenomenon and the implications thereof. Who controls our access to water and other resources? Who decides how to take care of these resources? What does this mean for our ability to live?
Sexual and reproductive health
- The discussion around unwanted pregnancies
- Current state: sex education, the availability of information and contraception (and the willingness to use it) for youth in Mexico. From quinceañera to teenage pregnancies.
- Illegal abortions
- Involuntary sterilization: its use in government health services
- Challenging the Church from within: Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir
- Women's health as a reflection of social health:
- Cervico-uterine cancer - number one cause of women's death in Mexico
- Rape and domestic abuse - current situation, existing law and challenges
- Public violence against women - Ciudad Juárez and elsewhere.
- Men organizing against violence: CORIAC
Economy and the power structure
- Transnational capital and the bleeding of public funds: the Mexican stock market, the banking system, FOBAPROA, El Barzón
- Oil: Massive funds as a crutch to hide structural deficiencies.
- Patents, exclusivity contracts (Tetra Pak, etc.), transnational corporations
- Privatization of national services and the implication for national sovereignty: Telephone, water, customs services, banks …
- Migrants - the second source of national income, after oil
- The Informal Economy in Mexico: keeping a leaky boat afloat
- Agriculture - National policies and the destruction of the ability to feed ourselves.
- Worker's Rights: Unionization as a tool of social control, and efforts to create "authentic" workers' movements.
- Microenterprise development: a goal in and of itself, or simply a piece of a larger effort? (FINCA, Construyamos, Red Colmena Milenaria)
- The legal system as a tool to hide criminals: the 1968 massacre, Aguas Blancas and Acteal, Colosio and Cardenal Posado Campos.
The Catholic Church and Mexico
- The relation between the Catholic Church and government, from the Conquest to date, balance of political and economic power on each side.
- Currents to the left, currents to the right: Overview of the church's position in social and political matters over the past 40 years.
- Questioning the dominant interpretation of the Word: social concerns within the Church: the Jesuits, La Salle, Comunidades Eclesiales de Base, liberation theology and their influence on the birth of community organizations in Mexico.
- No topic is taboo: Catholics for the Right to Decide.
Civil initiatives for social justice
- Women's rights and the feminist movement in Mexico: currents of thought, past and present.
- The HIV/AIDS prevention and care movement
- Gay and Lesbian movements
- Sex workers and their safety (health care, legal framework, harassment by public officials -- Brigada Callejera).
- Domestic Workers: a collective response to individual abuse (Colectivo Atabal)
- Indigenous migrant groups in Mexico City and their networks of self-help.
- Worker Rights movement: currents of thought, challenges to the movement
- Political control, corruption and the cooptation of social movements: Antorcha Campesina, the Green Party
- The marginalized as a banner for profit: social donations and government efforts to use these funds for their own ends: the IAPs, Vamos México.
- The Zapatistas: for each person to be responsible for their corner of the world.