Travels (2018-2019)

This series highlights the visual beauty of the places in Guatemala and Mexico that I travelled through from November 2018 to March 2019. It does not document or examine the cultures of these lands, or the people living on it. It does not address how hundreds of years of colonialism have destroyed and rebuilt its history.

Mexico and Guatemala are the land of the Maya, and here it is depicted 500 years after Columbus landed, as seen through the perspective of a White person travelling for the first time South of the U.S. border.

I was reading 1491 by Charles C. Mann at the time, from which I learned the scale and intricacy of ancient Native American civilizations prior to Columbus’s arrival. From the Adena to the Inca, the technology, culture, and knowledge they used was advanced. It put into perspective the suppression these societies have faced, and the influence financially wealthier countries maintained.

I felt the weight of being a white person in a colonized place. Living comfortably, abundantly, on relatively little, while Native families continue to live in poverty, forced me to acknowledge my privilege, and start to ask questions. What does decolonialism look like, and how can I embody it? How can I get involved in a volunteer opportunity or educational effort, without actively or unknowingly perpetuating colonialism?

Through the Sololá, Sacatepéquez, Alta Verepaz and Peten, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo regions of Mexico and Guatemala, I have accumulated many stories, and even more questions, the answers to which I am only just beginning to form. I see this adventure as a starting point from which I started my journey of racial healing, in hopes of learning to actively acknowledge my privilege in a way that allows me to connect more to people and places.