Zoë Heyn-Jones

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Zoë Heyn-Jones is a researcher-artist and cultural worker who grew up on Saugeen Ojibway land in Ontario (Canada) and on Tz’utujil/Kaqchikel Maya land in Guatemala. Zoë holds a PhD in Visual Arts from York University and a graduate diploma in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from CERLAC (the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean, York University). Zoë is currently a postdoctoral fellow with the Canadian Consortium on Performance and Politics in the Americas. She lives and works in Mexico City and Toronto.

Zoë’s postdoctoral project with the CCPPA poses the questions:

How is (anti)extractivism performed?

How have mining-impacted communities and solidarity groups alike mobilized their dissent?

How can we, as scholars and artists, perform research that does not similarly extract community/Indigenous knowledge for our own cultural capital?

How can we ethically and productively engage communities as co-researchers and collaborators without succumbing to an exploitative model of knowledge and labour extraction?

The project explores these questions theoretically and methodologically by engaging the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) in Toronto, and the JODVID (Jóvenes Organizados en Defensa de la Vida/Youth Organized in Defense of Life) collective in Guatemala to create a new collaborative art project that will be presented in Toronto in March 2019, in response to the PDAC (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada) convention, the world’s largest and longest-running mining conference. This will be complemented by a symposium on art and (anti)extractivism, a gallery exhibition of documentation and ephemera from MISN’s previous actions, and a resultant publication.

Zoë’s postdoctoral project aims to develop collaborative research-creation strategies that will extend the ongoing work on hemispheric collaboration taking place within the Canadian Consortium on Performance and Politics in the Americas. This project endeavours to activate, test, and expand decolonial methodologies for creative research on hemispheric solidarity networks, building upon Zoë’s transdisciplinary doctoral research on human rights accompaniment  as performed solidarity.

Her doctoral exhibition—and the titular essay film—al lado, afuera. // beside, outside. (2018) explored the performatic repertoire of accompaniment activism against the backdrop of posters created from selected documents from the LAWG (Latin American Working Group)’s collection (1965-1997) and a large wall drawing that mapped Zoë’s research on networks of solidarity activism between Guatemala and Canada, contextualizing this little-known embodied activist practice and exploring entanglements between the material archives and the ephemeral repertoires of solidarity.

While the practice of accompaniment began in the 1980s as a result of Guatemalan refugees who requested international accompaniment as they returned to their traditional lands from across the Mexican border in Chiapas, most current requests for accompaniment come from primarily Indigenous communities in resistance to multinational (mostly Canadian-owned) resource extraction projects. Zoë’s postdoctoral work expands her exploration of the performance of solidarity across the Americas, exploring both Canadian extractivist imperialism and Canadian relationality and responsibility, complicating the narrative of Canadians as peaceful and benevolent global citizens.

As a research-creation project with Canadian and Guatemalan partners, the project will also serve as a laboratory in which we will explore the ethics of collaboration, thus creating and strengthening hemispheric networks of performatic solidarity. By exploring hemispheric networks of extractivism—and, more importantly, of resistance—this work aims to contribute to situating Canada as politically, ethically, and socially inextricable from the rest of Americas.