Unstable Identities in Search of Home / Collective Stories / Yael Weiss, Olin Moctezuma-Burns, Daniela Sclavo Castillo, Miho Hagino, Arantxa Iduma Borbón, and Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada

Welcome to our collective short graphic novel, a part of the cluster “Unstable identities in Search for Home”. This graphic novel was written and edited by women from immigrant origins who, over a single or many generations, have made their home in Mexico. Our collective work showcases some of the diverse perceptions and experiences of Mexicans, who fall either within or outside the mestizo paradigm: that is, the Spanish and Indigenous racial admixture, which underlies dominant understandings of national identity. With this, we aim to cultivate a shared understanding and accountability about our positions in the logics of mestizaje. This graphic novel is entirely digital, and in addition to this introduction, it includes a set of six short graphic novels, and biographies of the contributors.

The first piece is an anonymous work that focuses on shifting notions of beauty that shape the sense of (self) worth of Asians, and particularly Japanese descendants, in Mexico. Yael Weiss interrogates narratives about Jewish Mexicans that circulate across public, familiar and intimate domains. Miho Hagino expresses the sense of loneliness away from your community, calm and anguish. Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada tackles the æffects of intergenerational experiences of ethno-racial exclusion of Mexican Japanese. Olin Moctezuma-Burns, in a search for a sense of belonging, explores her place in a complex, winding past and the limits of language in conveying her experiences of mestizo identity. Lastly, Daniela Sclavo offers a reflexive account of being positioned as güerita, whiteness and privilege  in Mexico.

This collection explores displacement, estrangement and belonging. It shows shifts in identity construction due to social processes of differentiation across ghostly, imagined and bodily boundaries. By engaging with the normalisation of practices of inclusion and exclusion, it brings to the fore the historical formation of mestizaje. There is a transformative power in experiencing a conceptual shift through writing and reading. Our stories encourage readers to question assumptions about migration, race, nation, ethnicity, class and religion. They reflect on our positionality, and how we can challenge inequalities based on these markers of difference. In sum, these pieces aim to contribute to expanding repertoires of (self) recognition, mutual acknowledgement and belonging in Mexico and elsewhere.

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This is one of five pieces in the cluster Unstable Identities in Search of Home. The series is edited by Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada. In collaboration with academics, artists and practitioners working across diverse interdisciplinary fields, it explores how identities that do not fit established paradigms can be given expression, and how our experiences and creativity can shape this process. Explore the other pieces for this series here.

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Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada
Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada is a Ph.D. candidate and Gates Cambridge scholar at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the experiences of Mexicans of Japanese descent of mestizaje (the racial mixture discourse of national identity in Latin America). Her research interests include transpacific migrations, nation-state formation, and race and ethnic relations in Mexico.
Miho Hagino
Miho Hagino is a Visual Artist, photographer, and curator focused on the field of Japanese and Japanese descendent artists in America. She works on projects in social art as the director of the Fundación Paisaje Social A.C. 
Daniela Sclavo Castillo
Daniela Sclavo Castillo is a Ph.D. student in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the History of crop conservation efforts, and how cultural elements can be merged into scientific infrastructure. Her ongoing project touches on the history of Chile (Capsicum) conservation efforts, mainly those driven by the Mexican state, international organisations, and academic institutions, and how their different discourses address cultural instances such as Mexican identity and belonging, traditional cuisines, and even flavour.
Olin Moctezuma-Burns
Olin Moctezuma-Burns is a Gates scholar and Ph.D. student in the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Cambridge. Her research interests lie at the intersection between archival studies and the history of knowledge and information, paying special attention to the everyday writing technologies and practices of understudied actors. She is currently researching the role of writing in knowledge-formation within domestic settings, particularly the daily routines that involved list-writing to exchange, process, and manage plants and botanic knowledge in early modernity.
Yael Weiss
Yael Weiss is a Writer, editor and translator. Among her publications are Cahier de violence (Paris, 2009) and Hematoma (Mexico, 2019). She has also compiled, edited and translated with Verónica Martínez Constelación de poetas francófonas de cinco continentes. Diez siglos (Mexico, 2010). Currently, she is editor at Revista de la Universidad de México and television host at TV UNAM.
Arantxa Iduma
Arantxa Iduma Borbón is an Industrial designer and illustrator, currently working as product designer and graphic designer in Queretaro, Mexico.