Cuernavaca is a small city with a temperate climate and exceptional natural beauty, around 80km south of Mexico City. From the 1950s to the 1980s, it attracted several generations of intellectuals and activists, becoming a testing ground for social initiatives that explored new ways of living and learning.
In 1967, with the support of the bishop Sergio Méndez Arceo, Ivan Illich and Valentina Borremans founded the Centro Intercultural de Documentación (CIDOC), an archive and hub for documenting and promoting social change in Latin America. A little earlier, the Benedictine monk Gregorio Lemercier, encouraged by Erich Fromm, had started a process of group psychoanalysis at the Santa María de la Resurrección Monastery, which led to the founding of the Emaús Psychoanalytic Centre in 1956. And in 1969, the journalist Betsie Hollants left CIDOC and set up the CIDHAL to study the situation of women in Latin America.
Sofía Olascoaga (b. 1980, Mexico City) is an artist, curator and researcher. Growing up in a community founded by her parents and other families in Cuernavaca has marked her work, leading her to move in the intersections of contemporary art, education, research, and the creation of spaces for collective action.
In this podcast, Sofía Olascoaga gives an overview of the activist history of Cuernavaca and reflects on how community and self-managed spaces can drive social change, while also looking at the processes of cultural and institutional colonisation by the West in Latin America. Olascoaga also brings to light the historical silencing of the voices of women and indigenous communities under these kinds of processes.
Library music produced by Roc Jiménez de Cisneros and Stephen Sharp at Ina/GRM (Paris). Interview by Anna Ramos. Script by Loli Acebal. Produced by Antonio Gagliano.