Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Reader 1

Nancy Neiman

Reader 2

Marina Perez de Mendiola

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Mexico has one of the largest indigenous populations in the Americas, with an approximated 78 distinct indigenous peoples. Despite the fact that about a quarter of Mexico’s population identifies as indigenous, the political implication of identifying as an indigenous person still carries a negative connotation. More than that, indigenous peoples find themselves disproportionately affected by poverty with almost 80% living under the poverty line. While the government’s approach to tackling poverty in indigenous communities includes establishing new commissions and institutions for the development of indigenous peoples as well as implementing new policies that ensure their inclusion and recognition within the state, the “implementation gap” is lacking and doesn’t manifest itself in any substantive way. Not only have these new institutions and policies not changed the material conditions for indigenous peoples, but they have also failed to address the inherent paternalistic attitudes in their assistance. Perhaps the biggest disservice done in this ‘help’ is that it doesn't necessarily consider an alternative approach- one that is constructed by indigenous peoples. While not all indigenous struggles are the same, there is a common thread. The “development” of indigenous peoples cannot emerge from the outside as a project spearheaded by the state. Instead, it can be found in the indigenous peoples’ demands and rights to territory, autonomy, and self-governance.

For the purpose of this study, I want to expand on what indigenous peoples’ right to territory means, so as to not limit it to only signify the visible and physical spaces they occupy, but to also include the airwaves through which powerful messages are carried out for their revindication of land, community, and respective identities. I specifically want to focus on the study of indigenous radios as ideological tools for both the Mexican government and indigenous communities alike. I seek to explore the spaces of resistance that emerge from these radios as well as their limitations. I will particularly focus on two types of radio models: the state-sponsored ‘Indigenous Cultural Broadcasting System’ radios and the free ‘pirate’ radios. My analysis of these radios will focus on the radio stations’ structure, their programming and objectives, and their participation with the communities they are broadcasting to. Moreover, I will choose radios from the state of Chiapas, a state with one of the highest radio concentrations and with the most radios without broadcasting concessions in the country. To guide my analysis, I pose the question: What roles do SRCI radios and free radios have in indigenous communities? I hypothesize that although these radios are structured differently and have different objectives, they both play a role in strengthening community cohesion and resistance against neoliberal ideology and politics. These two outcomes are especially relevant in the context of Mexico’s push to create a national identity that is compatible with neoliberalism.