Land acknowledgment: My name is Dresda Méndez de la Brena and I am an immigrant settler, living as an uninvited guest on the traditional and unceded territory of Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk), which has served as a site of meeting and exchange among indigenous peoples since time immemorial. I give thanks for the opportunity to live and gather in the bounty of this place and to connect with it. When these words are said, something inside me moves in contradictory ways. What does it mean to be a settler when you come from an indigenous background? What does it mean to acknowledge the land that has experienced such profound violence? What does it mean to acknowledge the land of others, but not my own? I came to learn the importance of acknowledging the land only when I arrived in Montreal in February 2022, and I learned it first, through imitation, then through practice, and then through genuine gratitude. And I am. But finding the right words is not nearly as important as creating an oral bond that honors indigenous historical connections to the land while acknowledging my own commitment to ongoing solidarity, with Indigenous peoples, non-human beings, the land and water. I am still not sure how to do it, and I do not want to only learn how to cultivate apologetic rhetoric but an active engagement that brings about the multiple constellations of attitudes that must be reflected beyond territorial acknowledgements.
So, I am here, bounding myself to a history that I came to learn and care about, and I feel that something is still missing. Perhaps it is the lack of acknowledgement of my own complicity in this ongoing process of violence and theft of indigenous land in my own country. In fact, I come from a mestizo background. I was born and raised in Mexico, and I am a juxtaposition of rivers that cross each other, that is, of a double origin, Indigenous and European. Because I live with my own contradictions as I am a white-passing, middle-class person with an indigenous background who has benefited from the colonial system embedded in the history of my country, learning to write a Land acknowledgement has given me the opportunity to question the ongoing colonial condition and inner colonialism that runs inside me and hurts the territories from which I come from and the ones I currently inhabit. As this statement is thoroughly shaped by the contradictions of my own history, I want to leave my land acknowledgment open, as an ongoing process of an infinite number of intertwined threads from different positionalities. As a river that carries with it past stories, dragging sediments from those previous spaces that it has inhabited and the sounds from places where it has moved. And as an open letter of gratitude to the Lands that today host me and let me breathe.
Bio: Hello! Dresda Emma Méndez de la Brena (She/her) and I am an emerging Mexican feminist scholar with a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from the University of Granada in Spain, a M.A. degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Utrecht University (Netherlands) and the Universidad de Granada (Spain), and a BA in International Relations from the Universidad de las Américas, Puebla (Mexico). My interdisciplinary education has allowed me to build a diverse research practice that uses different theoretical and creative methodological approaches. Moving from traditional political studies to critical feminist epistemologies, my Ph.D. research focused on forms of contemporary violence that produces debility and disability. To address this, I analyzed some experiences of women with fibromyalgia in Andalusia, Spain, and the way they make us think of other possibilities of resistance created by self-care practices and human-nonhuman support networks.
Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University working under the supervision of Dr Arseli Dokumaci. My project is embedded in the four-year collaborative research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), entitled “Mobilizing Disability Survival Skills for the Urgencies of the Anthropocene.” My research explores a complex phenomenon of extractive mining processes, disabled ecologies, land struggle, community health, and community resistance through the lens of an edible insect characteristic of an indigenous community in my home country.
Besides being an AIM steering member, I am also a member of Concordia’s Feminist Media Studio and the Advisory Committee to address barriers to accessibility in SSHRC programs. I also collaborate with Tutela Leaning Network an informal and open international collective that aims to build connections between marginalized activist experiences and institutionalized academic knowledge production.