website documents the 2006 social movement of Oaxaca,
Mexico and its relationship to the global discourse on
human, women´s and indigenous rights. With more than 35 video testimonials supplemented with text,
photographs and reproduction of documents, it offers
the public—students, teachers, researchers,
activists and other interested parties—direct access
to the story of this social movement as told by those
who participated in it and others who observed it
ongoing social movement in Oaxaca is strongly linked
to the emergence in June, 2006 of the Popular Assembly
of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), a coalition of over
300 organizations that inspired hundreds of thousands
of people providing new models and mechanisms for
social change. Through
organized marches and tactical takeovers of government
and media facilities, the APPO interrupted the usual
functions of the Oaxaca state government for six
months, until the Mexican federal police force
intervened in November of 2006 shut down much of the
movement and arrested and imprisoned hundreds of
APPO continues to be active through flourishing
networks of community radio stations and the
establishment of a people´s version of the
Guelaguetza folk festival, an old indigenous tradition
that had been taken over by commercial and political
interests and was reclaimed during the height of this
the APPO faces many challenges still.
the APPO and its larger context of political activism,
the use of testimony and the claiming of rights are
important tools that allow previously silenced groups
to speak and be heard, enacting alternative frameworks
of political and cultural participation.
Because the population of Oaxaca state includes
sixteen different indigenous languages and a
population that receivs news and culture through
non-print media, oral testimonials are particularly
important and compelling in shaping new models of
use of audiovisual testimonials in this website thus
relates to how people appropriate rights ideas within
their local communities and insert them into their own
systems of cultural meanings and specific political
Making Rights a Reality website features brief video testimonials in
Spanish with English subtitles that can be viewed
online through the You Tube public use video website.
These testimonials are urgent oral accounts
which bear witness to wrongs committed against the
speakers, as well as providing descriptions and
analyses of the events that unfolded during the
are supplemented with background information about the
history of various social movements in Oaxaca during
the past three decades as well as a video timeline of
key events of the Oaxaca social movement from June to
November of 2006.
testimonials at the heart of this site are
emerge from open-ended interviews, public broadcasts,
and footage of specific events.
They include statements by teachers and other
participants who were illegally detained, tortured and
imprisoned for their political activities as well as
testimonials from their family members.
Women who participated in the takeover and
reprogramming of public state television and radio
stations provided their stories, as did the Mixtec and
Zapotec participants in the APPO movement in
Juxtlahuaca, Oaxaca City and Los Angeles.
Finally, the website includes testimonials from
the “unorganized”—entrepreneurs, crafts
merchants, students, housewives—whose experience of
the social movement changed their understandings of
local political culture, the concept of citizenship
and forms of participatory democracy.
Rights a Reality was conceived as a digital
ethnography which allows viewers to directly hear the
voices of the participants and witnesses of the Oaxaca
social movement of 2006.
Ethnography as a form of documentation strives
to produce understanding through the richness, texture
and detail found in the perspectives of local actors
who directly experienced events.
The inclusion of video testimonials in the
website allows students and other interested viewers a
more direct interaction with the participants of the
Oaxaca social movement, and invites reflection on
wider perspectives of:
Contemporary processes of ethnic, racial and
gendered identity formation and claiming of rights
Definitions of participatory democracy, political
society, and citizenship
Models for achieving cultural dialogue across
Making Rights a Reality website is organized into chapters like a
digital chapter contains key video testimonials linked
to particular actors. Each chapter includes a written introduction to guide users
through the different materials and many chapters
include slide shows as well.
Enter here to read about each chapter and begin
exploring the digital ethnography.