Stitching Critical Citizenship during Mexico’s War on Drugs

  • Katia Olalde (Author)


In this article, I focus on a set of collectively stitched handkerchiefs commemorating victims of Mexico’s “war on drugs.” I propose that these embroideries completed in relays can be conceived as the tangible manifestation of work done by collaboration networks articulated by the response of the participants to the call for a critical exercise of citizenship. I posit that the word “citizenship” can be read either as domestic citizenry, that is, as exhorting Mexican nationals to commit to the political struggle against violence and impunity; or as global citizenship, that is, as promoting a responsibility towards and a sense of interconnectedness with a common humanity. In both cases, the call for a critical exercise of citizenship expresses a concern to promote and act in accordance with an ethics of nonviolence, informed by the principles of indigenous communal polities and by the longstanding connection between embroidery and feminine moral virtue imported into New Spain during the sixteenth century.