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Indigenous Autonomy in Mexico
by Scott Brennan
Published November 2023
“Indigenous Autonomy in Mexico” focuses on two Nahua indigenous communities — Santa Maria de Ostula and Cherán K’eri — fighting for social and environmental justice in the notoriously violent southern Mexican state of Michoacán. Indigenous people within this region have established semi-autonomous, grassroots governments in response to rampant violence, corruption, environmental degradation and worsening social conditions. Their claims to the right to self-determination are based on a clause in Article 2 of the Mexican Constitution which states that indigenous towns have the ability to govern themselves in accordance with their traditional ways apart from the institutionalized Mexican political system. These social movements, initiated by Mexico’s most dispossessed and marginalized populations, demonstrate the capability of these communities to find solutions to some of their most pressing problems: crime, lack of education, disappearing cultural heritage, environmental degradation and corruption.
After receiving a Master of Fine Arts at the London College of Communications in 2005, Brennan’s work has been exhibited in galleries internationally including New York, Mexico City, La Paz, Bolivia and London. His work has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Time Magazine, Amnesty International, ZEKE magazine, and the BBC. A resident of Mexico since 2010, his primary focus is on documenting the rise of social movements and the processes of territory defense in rural and indigenous regions of Latin America. His work on indigenous groups in resistance in Mexico was awarded first place in the 2017 Pictures of the Year International POYI community Awareness Competition. The project is currently sponsored by the Blue Earth Alliance, and received the spring 2018 Documentary Project Fund.