Messy notes & Conditions of Departure (Part 2)

Below is a continuation. Read part 1 here.

I fell behind in my note-taking efforts. I never stood a chance but I enjoy trying. Unlike my attempt in the morning, I was at least on time for the start of Conditions of Departure: Immigration to, and Emigration from, Mexico, chaired by Dr. Rebecca Janzen (pictured), whom I was dazzled to later meet (because I had seen her in Andrew Wall‘s newest film, Conform).

It’s supremely garbled, but anyway, here’s what I wrote down:

Arnoldo Vásquez Gómez spoke on The Role of the Railway and Press in Mennonite Immigration to Northern Mexico, 1922-26. I wrote at the top, “I can’t keep up with reading and absorbing” and I remember now that his paper was translated into English and appeared on the powerpoint… but I couldn’t keep up. I did write some things: “a life project” … “what was the newspaper’s intention toward public discourse?” … “micro-history” … “if you don’t look at small everyday matters and local questions, you lose a lot of good/detail”. (Or, you miss a lot… I definitely get behind this.)

María Ordoñez Trujano’s paper was Mexican Diplomacy in the Migration of Mennonites to Mexico, 1922-24. My notes: “after the armed revolution came to an end…” … “again needed farmers on the land” –> Mennonites … and a Mormon settlement?! … so despite the difficulty (“madness”) of Mennonites leaving Canada for Latin America … the Mexican government did make it easy (gave many allowances) … this was “diplomatic work” to get the U.S. to recognize the new Mexican President. I wrote this down because this was interesting to me.

Dr. Ben Nobbs-Thiessen shared Permanence of Perpetual Motion? Cycles of Settlement and Mobility Initiated by the 1922 Emigration. This was when I learned what LGM stands for: Low German Mennonites. Some quotes, badly remembered and scrawled on my part, say: “Mennonites need to travel from time to time” (demonstrates their blasé attitude toward continued migration plans) … economic or religious reasons? “Abe” = anonymous interviewee (I may have laughed too hard at this) … “persistent mobility” … “hyper mobility” … “some families moved between Mexico and Canada… as if they belonged nowhere” (OMIAC report) … tension over youth enculturation in Canada “to the bewilderment of parents” … some were opposed (religiously?) to irrigation?

Samuel Boucher read from his paper Climate, Violence, and the Mennonite Migration from Mexico to Colombia — positing that when Mennonites from Mexico moved to Colombia in 2015, it was for climate reasons, not religious reasons. This was particularly fascinating to me as this was the first I’d heard of a Mennonite migration to Colombia. (At these conferences there are a lot of “first time I’ve heard that” situations going on, of course.) Some notes: check out Florida Farming on YouTube, a promotional tool to get people to move from Mexico … “There’s no escaping environmental problems” … water scarcity … mega-draught … mass suicide of Tarahumaras because of food scarcity … drug violence will pale in comparison to violence over water (climate activists are being murdered) … Mennonites are using all available water … government giving Mennonites too many permits for their large-scale farms … Mennonites settled in Meta, close to Bogota, called Neue Mennoniten Kolonie … flatlands that get rain … “here, there’s water”.

And, here are my notes from the Q&A:

Boucher: in Colombia religious leaders are in the move too, but are not leading it — however they’re still getting the privileges — seemed more concerned with tax exemptions…

Mexico — thought a protestant group would improve the country (that’s wild)

Nobbs-Thiessen: …moving into evangelical churches so there’s no Mennonite name attached to them… (I clearly missed the beginning of this and cannot remember what it was but I hear the sentiment, I think, or at least am intrigued by it).

Mennonites experienced “very exclusive political treatment” in Mexico.

A lot of this reminds me of what I remember hearing at the Mennonites & Anthropology conference in 2019…

Samual Boucher shared many maps with us.