Comida, no bombas
From the terrace, four floors up, I sit, sipping yerba maté, reading Guillermo Batalla’s ‘México Profundo’. Batalla speaks of two Mexico’s: the contemporary survival of Mesoamerican cultures (lo profundo) notwithstanding five hundred years of efforts to supplant them with a western one (lo imaginario). Multiple Mexico’s: I sit here thinking that what we see (lo profundo o lo imaginario) depends on where we are sitting, the sort of questions we ask, the sort of stories that seem to count (and those which appear not to).
Mexico City is my home for the next three months (roughly) during my Applied Field Experience (AFE). Having completed two milestones – my first year as a Rotary Peace Fellow and my first year of my Masters in Geography – I am working with Centro de Colaboración Cívica (CCC), an NGO that is, for more than eight years now, committed to building consensus in relation to some of Mexico’s most pressing social and environmental justice issues. Their expertise lies in designing and facilitating processes that bring people together in generative dialogue. It is about bringing the right people together – something that peacebuilder John Paul Lederach once described as critical yeast.
CCC invited me to provide advice regarding how to incorporate human rights, access to justice and conflict sensitivity principles into the design and planning processes related to (proposed) renewable energy projects in southern Mexico. In terms of process, how do we move beyond the unevenness, the misrecognition, inequities in power that tend to characterise ‘development’ projects? My research will contribute to a draft framework that will be tested, critiqued, and transformed through a series of participatory workshops and dialogues, facilitated by CCC, involving the different actors affected by these proposed projects.
What is it about process that I find so important in my work as a peacebuilder? Rather than think of peace as some end point (fixed, static) out there to be discovered (or rolled out as a one-size fits all) I think of peace as a process (as a series of increasingly complex networks of relationships, relationships that each one of us participates in every day). Thinking peace in these terms open us – I think – to new possibilities (another world is possible, after all).
To close, I wanted to share a photo I took on 25 May in front of the Palacio de Belles Artes, Mexico City. The protest was part of a global day of action against corporate control of global food systems. Around the world, close to two million people marched in 436 cities, in 52 countries, making visible those perspectives that tend to be overlooked in debates around food insecurity. As my friend and professor at the University of Queensland, Dr Kristen Lyons recently said, “Rather than a problem of production, food insecurity is an outcome of a political and economic system that concentrates land, agricultural crops and food, and limits distribution and access”. The banner reads “Food, not bombs”. (Also reminds me of Michael Franti’s words of wisdom – “You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb it into peace”).