Transnational politics: between activism and art Mexicans engaging in homeland politics from Brussels and Paris
Migrant populations have the power to engage in homeland politics from abroad. Indeed, even from afar, migrants are agents with the capacity to develop transnational strategies to respond to humanitarian crises and other socio-political issues embedded in their homelands. They may engage in homeland politics through transnational campaigns, extraterritorial voting, advocacy efforts, protests, and even artistic performances.
This exhibition is part of an ethnographic study I conducted from 2014 to 2018 among the Mexican community in Brussels and Paris to better understand how migrant communities engage in homeland politics from abroad.
The context of insecurity in Mexico, its rampant violence since the declaration of war against drugs, and numerous cases of human rights violations have triggered the political mobilisation of the Mexican population around the world. Members of Mexican civil society have organised national and transnational movements such as #YoSoy132 in 2012  and Ayotzinapa in 2014 . These have denounced the incapacity of the Mexican government to respect the rule of law and to provide security to its citizens. However, Mexican society is not only concerned with condemning the context of violence and impunity affecting their country. Mexicans also mobilised intensively after the deadly earthquake of September 2017, and for the presidential elections in July 2018.
This photo series portrays different strategies of transnational political mobilisation deployed by Mexican activists living in Brussels and Paris. During my fieldwork, I managed to capture how artistic practices such as music, dance, embroidering and painting have been key components to express their political demands transnationally.
 The #YoSoy132 movement was a protest organised by students in Mexico to denounce the collusion between the two largest TV groups, the economic elite, and the former president Enrique Peña Nieto during the campaign for the 2012 presidential elections.
 On September 26, 2014, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' School were abducted and then disappeared in the State of Guerrero, Mexico.
Rituals, artifacts, and identity Mexican migrants use national rituals, artifacts, and festivities to reinforce their identity both as members of the Mexican diaspora and as transnational political actors. For instance, Mexican activists take advantage of Mexican national days to organise cultural festivals where they convey political messages and denounce the violence and impunity in their country of origin. Mexican migrants have managed to adapt national artifacts and elements such as traditional rituals, musical instruments, handcrafts, and Mexican food to their social mobilisation to reinforce their identity and showcase a festive and convivial character to their political demands.
Art and creativity in politics
Mexican activists in Belgium and France use artistic practices as tools to engage in politics from abroad. They have adapted their personal skills to design creative forms of protest through which they can express their political demands as well as develop free spaces for dialogue and reflection. Through artistic representations such as music, theatre, dancing, and painting, Mexican migrants have been able to reinterpret cultural representations of their homeland and adapt them in their hostland to mobilise transnationally. They recognise the instrumental use of the arts when mobilising politically since the originality of their artwork is appealing to actors embedded in their hostland. In addition, art-based strategies also enable them to reinforce their cultural identity as members of the Mexican diaspora while creating spaces for political reflection and socialisation.
Protests and electoral politics During the period of the study, Mexican migrants engaged in electoral politics and organised protests. For instance, in 2018, Mexico held elections for many government positions including the presidency and congressional seats at both state and federal levels. For the first time, independent candidates unaffiliated to any political party were allowed to run for the presidency, provided they fulfilled specific legal requirements set out by the Mexican National Electoral Institute. In the run up to the elections, Mexican migrants organised events such as demonstrations and public gatherings to either show their support for their preferred candidate or to denounce the context of violence in their country of origin. However, for any type of public gathering to materialise, the organisers had to notify the relevant authorities in Brussels or Paris. Therefore, the transnational activism of Mexican migrants is not only shaped by the norms of their homeland but also by the legal and political norms of their country of residence.