Push Factors: Perspectives on Guatemalan Migration

December 7, 2015    

Introductory Wall Text of Push Factors was written by curator Heidi McKinnon:

The geography of our hemisphere holds the evidence of deep layers of human migration. Trade routes between present-day Central America, Mexico, and the United States have existed for millennia, carving foot-worn paths across shifting borderlands. Thousands of people retrace those same steps every day for reasons more complex than economics or opportunity.

These images from Guatemala reveal a microcosm of unparalleled beauty, human potential, sorrow, and profound tragedy. Resource exploitation, genocide, poverty, drought, femicide, gangs, corruption, and racism have coalesced into an architecture of institutional violence in Guatemala, the framework of a failed state, and the push factors for migration. The United States is not the first option for many migrants who seek asylum within Central America.

Photographers James Rodríguez, Rodrigo Abd, and William B. Plowman have an intimate working knowledge of the landscapes, stories, and human suffering illustrated here. Reflect upon these rich visual accounts, the complexity of life in Guatemala, and consider the stereotyping of migrants that floods the media today. Local youth migrants have written their reflections on the work.

As a nation, when will we admit that a child or adult fleeing imminent violence in Central America might be a refugee? How much would a border mean to you if you had to cross it to save your life? We invite you to experience these stories, share your thoughts, and engage with the issues.

Heidi H. McKinnon
Curators Without Borders