When their children began to disappear en route to the United States, a small group of mothers banded together to demand that their children be returned to them alive. Along the way, they sparked a mass movement for migrant rights.
Since the 1970s, mothers in Central and South America have mobilized against a very particular form of political violence: enforced disappearance. At certain moments in time, they were the only ones who could.
When disappearances along the migrant routes through Mexico skyrocketed in the 1990s and early 2000s, largely due to the domino effect set off after changes in regional border policy, mothers of the disappeared came together once again. What began as an expedition to locate their children, marching from embassies to migrant shelters to public markets with photographs of the missing, has now become a worldwide call to action, demanding that governments put an end to the international border regimes that disappear migrants and erase the evidence. Arielle Gordon explores a mass movement of mothers who—even in the face of police intimidation, faked corpses, corrupt authorities, and government lies—thrust the unseeable into sight.
View the full episode transcript and sources.
Arielle Gordon is a PhD student in the Departments of History and Women’s and Gender studies at the University of Michigan. She studies resistance movements, border politics, and visual culture in Latin America and the Middle East. Her article “From Guerrilla Girls to Zeinabs: Reassessing the Figure of the Militant Woman in the Iranian Revolution” situates the icon of the “veiled woman with a gun” in a global landscape of liberation struggle and Third Worldism during the 1960s and 1970s.
Episode Producer: Arielle Gordon
Episode Contributors: Dr. Wendy Vogt, Dr. Diana Taylor
Voice Actors: Stefania Gonzalez
Host and Season Producer: Hayley Bowman
Executive Producer: Gregory Parker
Editorial Board: Hayley Bowman, Christopher DeCou, Arielle Gordon, Gregory Parker, Taylor Sims, Melanie Tanielian
Special thanks to Ecologies of Migrant Care, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at NYU.
Additional thanks to the Caravana de Madres and the Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano for their fortitude and their incredible story.
Image: Miguel Discart, CC BY-SA 2.0.
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Christopher DeCou, Gregory Parker, Melanie S. Tanielian, and Taylor Sims
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