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19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA
Ben'n Yalhalhj - I'm from Yalalag
by Citlali Fabian


Over the last years, I have been documenting my Yalalteca culture—the Zapotec people originally from the Sierra Juarez in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, now spread all around Mexico and Los Angeles. I started this project as a dialogue with my grandmother, a Native Zapotec speaker, by slowly creating our own language through images. I’ve been collecting vernacular photos of my family, as well as photographing the members of my diaspora in our extended communities, in an attempt to connect us over time and territory.

My hope is to learn about their experiences as members of our migrating culture: our interconnection through music and traditional dances, the relation between us and our community, and the challenges of younger generations integrating into our reciprocity practices, amongst many other things. For me, the vital part is to reinforce our Yalalteca identity, to weave a net to talk about it and our worldview.

I have seen my culture transform and integrate into new lands because culture is not static. It eventually adapts over time, especially in new territories. This is also a family reunion—a way to honour my ancestors and to see our culture stay alive and withstand colonization processes.