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Atenco Lives!
Filmmaking and Popular Struggle in Mexico

Author(s): Livia K. Stone

The People's Front in Defense of Land of Atenco (the "Frente") is an emblematic force in contemporary Mexican politics and in anti-capitalist, anti-neoliberal activist networks throughout the world. Best known for years of resistance against the encroachment of a government airport project on communal farmland, the Frente also became international news when its members were subject to state violence, rape, and intimidation in a brutal government crackdown in 2006. Through it all, documentary filmmaking has been one aspect of the Frente and its allies' efforts. The contradictions and difficulties of this moral and political project emerge in the day-to-day experiences of local, national, and international filmmakers and film distributors seeking to participate in the social movement.

Stone highlights the importance of how the circulation of the physical videos, and not just their content, promotes the social movement. More broadly she shows how videographers perform their activism, navigating the tensions between neoliberal personhood or ego and an ethos of compañerismo that privileges community. Grounded in the lived experiences of Atenco's activists and allied filmmakers, Atenco Lives! documents the making and circulating of films as an ethical and political practice purposefully used to transform human relationships.

Biography of Author(s)

Livia K. Stone is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University.


  • "Livia Stone's attention to the details of a complex social movement is invaluable. She tracks lived experiences, historical genealogies, and discursive circuits with clarity and rich texture. Stone positions herself among the filmmakers she follows, helping readers reflect on the ethnographer's role in the intake and dissemination (production) of knowledge."
    Erica Wortham, author of Indigenous Media in Mexico: Culture, Community, and the State